04 February 2017

Patriarchal bullshit

I know men older than him who come from older times and older societies of thoughts that aren't as hard as he is.

This is hard. I don't want to be the grudge-holder in all of this. And I fear that it will be taken that way. But I simply refuse to welcome all of the same condescending speech patterns and the contemptuous fodder that has been their manner of speaking to me all these years. They don't have to agree with me or think of my position with any respect, but I don't have to keep the door of communication open, either.

I know I don't know them now. Of course I don't know them. I don't know them in an every-day sense. I wouldn't have a clue of how they take their coffee, how they approach budgeting, how they feel about the weather, or how their thoughts and thought processes have changed over the years.

What I do know is that one brother throws it in my face that I don't know him but continues to be an arrogant and disdainful prick. In ten years (or more), he has told me that he doesn't get "as angry" any more, he has implied that he has changed or grown, he has insinuated my own pettiness when I've included random, if inaccurate, disclaimers indicating what he deems is an "old school mentality." (I sent both brothers a video of a dad and daughter singing a Disney song together just a few weeks ago, prefacing the text with what I thought was an easy reference to our harder days - "you gotta crack the tough a moment to watch it. Once you do, it'll melt your heart.") But I still get hot replies and defensive retorts. And aggressive responses. ("I love how you send something sweet and then fuck it up by sending a follow up text with some old school mentality of how you think I am." End quote.) This from a brother who thinks he's somehow improved since his days of his abusive temper, the days of chasing my other brother and I around the house pounding on us, the days of being a frightening maniac who could have easily turned into a news story. Maybe his progression is that he doesn't feel the need to scream at us, to jump up and hit us. But maybe any progression has only been fraudulently achieved because of the physical distance and time. Of course he'd chill out some over time as a natural course to aging - he'd be another whole brand of whacknut if it hadn't. But there's no evidence to support me thinking differently of him than the hardened asshole that I do. This is a guy who, when punching a guy at a bar in the town where I lived, took me down in the recoil, on accident, but never apologized, never had a moment of "oh shit, I'm sorry" when he saw me go down, never had that "oh crap" moment where he realized how out of control he was. Drunk or not, some critical sense of something will still poke through. It did not poke through. I was married with kids at the time. And he was just fresh out of the military himself, divorced, and had a kid himself. We were both adults then, after years of being out of school and a rash of experience. I can appreciate that the physical distance between us would prevent me from knowing how my brother truly "is" now in any definitive circumstance, but how can he not at least understand that the same distance makes his touchy, easily offended responses to me even more apparent? What does accusing me of not knowing him actually accomplish? How does accusing me of not knowing him actually show me the changes he said he's made? I used to think his defensive reactions were hurt ones, hurt by an older, clueless, and mean sister who was too hardened to think of them softly. Now I finally understand, because of my own journey of self-discovery and wound education, it's just him. Still struggling at something and me not helping.

What else I do know is that the other brother used to be the more sensitive of the two and has revealed the glorious influences of our dad and the extreme mentalities of the country around him. In the twenty years since leaving home, he was always kinder to me and spoke in more philosophical tones, if only vague metaphors at first, but was constantly getting hit. From the external, physical influences and abuses of my dad and other brother to the contextual influences around him to the very literal military experiences to the eye-opening experiences of life with his wife and children. It would have only been fair for him to have had enough when I got pissed at him for sending me one of yet another many hundreds of similar inappropriate or vulgar jokes, texts, photos. He's been trying to shed the heavy cloak of guilt for a great many things - mostly misplaced and never his responsibility (parental guilt trips, various guilt trips by others, over time and over many years) - for a great many years. But the colours of my dad's upbringing flashed through his "FUCK OFF WITH YOUR OVERSENSTIVITY" in a heartbeat. It was those words coming my way after finally, finally collecting the pieces of my own self-worth (a hard thing to say even now) and finally finding people in various interesting places to support the idea that I had self-worth and dignity and proposed more than just the mere suggestion that I could be respected, that my ideas could be respected, too, that hit me the hardest. Because it was the old hitting the new. It was a past calling from its grave. Those words were a violent shake to what I'd come to know, surprising and shocking and then, all of a sudden, not the least bit jarring. Of course it wasn't. Of course I was the one out of line. Of course I was the uptight one, the oversensitive one, the feminist, the french-influenced liberal bitch. (Ha HA! I'm not liberal anything. If only knew how little Canada was influenced by French anything.) Of course I was the projection of everything negative about a woman having the actual gall to not only get healed to a place of feeling worthy enough to stand up for herself, but to call out the trend of typical behaviour in all of them. All three men. All three defensive, temperamental, controlling men. The trend of sending, saying, giving, joking their sister/daughter bullshit, inappropriate jokes until the end of time even after being asked not to and could they please not and so on and then freaking the hell out because they did not get the reaction or response they felt they should get. Heaven forbid it actually repulse me and make me feel awkward. Heaven forbid I ask nicely for them not to be like that with me and they actually show enough respect to DO IT without backhanded jabs. (I have actually received "oh, sorry, didn't want to offend you" texts from all three of them in the sore aftermath of incidents where I've said something and they've sent me other jokes that are truly harmless. That's so over-the-top.)

And all of this, ALL of it, nothing much unto itself. Stories here, instances there, dotted and speckled throughout the course of knowing each other in broken ways from damaged people. Every family deals with it. But if they had ever looked at me once as a person whose viewpoint could be respected, I could have felt respected, or felt okay to have views different from theirs, or to have my memories just be that - memories set in the past with one perception, not necessarily wrong even if not accurate and either left there or positively addressed. I know I would not have had to request to not be sent/told/relayed/emailed stupid, ignorant, inappropriate jokes more than once over the course of many years. In fact, it's not even that I can't take the joke as much as it is that there is absolute zero reason for it to be sent to a female family member because it's awkward as fuck. Why can't you weirdo men just fucking get that, why don't you?

And for that, I have struggled my entire life to own what I know, what I say, what I do in attempt to ward off how crazy I feel I am. And it streams down from the malignant ideas of an unwell patriarch. I have assigned every bad experience I've had to another person, all because I've not been able to to address that this is the way it has always been with my dad and my brothers. Hot and defensive and broken and controlling. Heaven forbid we hear, much less entertain a contrasting view point. My brothers, being part of the centralized integral unit I grew up in and hardened as they are (and oh, they are) and contributing to the entire yarn ball of useless, negligent mess between us, still do not even begin to compare to the source of their attitudes, which is the trickle of poison of our dad's neanderthal-like thinking. And that's where the sweeping generalization comes in. Each of these men separate in their own experiences now that they're in the world, but absolutely together in their hatred, their meanness. And even though I still forgive (mostly in the hopes that they can forgive me), I do not have to invite the continued abuse.

03 February 2017

Underneath and In Between the Lines

So what bothers me most is the fact that I spent a LOT of time trying to figure out that these men are these kind of men. I'm kind of still chewing on that part, in the wake of getting TO this point. They. Are. These. Type of men. How could I have not seen it? Why did it take me this freaking long to put it together? Puh. 'Cause I'm slow, that's why. Without being self-deprecating I can say, yup. Classic case of getting the punch line hours after the joke has been said. Classic Amy. I've known I've struggled with getting a joke, a point, an angle before. But this. Wow. Because I honestly tried to make things work with them and didn't get that part about a tiger not changing his stripes.

I mean, seriously! Where is the freaking LOVE, already? Huh? Where is it? And how do I, the slow one, the "huh-what" girl, the unwitty sister get to be here. Here, as in time. Before them. Here, as in the only one. Here, as in bizarre twist to life, knowing what I was given and taught (and knowing ALL that I've been given and taught). These people had catechism drilled into their heads! These people evangelized "blood is thicker than water," not even aware of the older proverb debated as containing more to it ("the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb", implying that the ordinary meaning is actually reversed,) and still didn't put the disputed version into veritable action. They lost their catechism. They lost something. They lost more than just regimented church lessons. It's the spirit of love that governs all of it that they lost. Or maybe never had. Who knows.

The point is the sadness of it. And the sheer isolation. And the sheer irony. 

Sadness. Missing out on the love and the deeper connection. The bitter, dismal, heartbroken, melancholy, pessimistic, sorrowful, dejected, despairing, cheerless, despondent, disconsolate, anguished hell that only comes from the absence of higher love. And never knowing if I contributed to it, never knowing if I'll get to apologize for my part in exacerbating the problem. And now, not even wanting to. At least that's what I'm telling myself until enough time goes by, and I start relenting, start being soft again, try talking to them again, and then they say or do something else as equally awkward or vulgar or offensive or just plain disrespectful.

Isolation. It's brought them to be independently segregated from each other and confined to themselves and their cycled and recycled thoughts. Thoughts that emerge from unsubstantial basis and coagulate into malignant theories and are rarely checked against the backdrop of meaningful, solid, and consequential greater good.

Irony. That I sit here working off my bitterness off as best I can to have a better, fresher, kinder relationship with each one of them but their lack of respect is so embedded that they can only justify their own views with seething, empty rhetoric. That I feel every bit of the slime and negative version of everything they think I am, but get accused of my views and demand respect for theirs. That this whole time, the whole time since leaving home, I have pained over, guilted over, and raked over what I could have done to help them revile me so much because of the reactions I get and yet haven't once experienced them be there for me. (Nope, not once. No you didn't. No you fucking didn't. You spat your words out that sounded good but were nowhere to be found when I needed someone.) Teaching me about God but not truly believing. Teaching me words but not acting.

And that's only the basic start. The tip of the iceberg, people. See, the thing is I used to be on board with them. Right on board. I used to agree that women drivers are the worst. I hated their inappropriate or horrendously graphic jokes, but I would laugh at them. (Didn't want to be uptight, right?) 

I was all about the strict, totalitarian, "you do what I say and you do it now" thing. (Ask my girls.)

I used to own what my dad tried to convey, which was that all men ever wanted was "one thing." So I learned that all men wanted was one thing. I never imagined I could be engaged for who I was or how I thought or the values I carried, but I was expected to have those traits. 

I learned that respect from them was earned, but respect for them was demanded. If only I could have known early on that I could keep trying to earn it and would never get it. (No, E, M, D, you don't. You never did. Don't get so hot and pissy with me about it because you are liars. You lie to yourselves and you lie about giving respect. Lie, lie, lie.) 

I learned women shouldn't get fat ("Your mom is pretty overweight," "she let herself go.")

Women shouldn't nag. (I.e. 'I hate doing things for the woman I'm supposed to love and don't.') and that they "expand at the altar." 

Women should put out, make supper, and go to church (because his grandmother allegedly told him in Spanish that a good woman is 3 things: a chef in the kitchen, a saint at church, and a whore in the bedroom.)

I also unwittingly learned that I was not ever going to be shown respect or have respect. I learned that love is mostly conditional. I learned that my opinions don't matter, that my memories aren't what I remember, and that I am laughable and dismiss-able (and they still laugh when they're oh-poor-Amy-ing me!)

But then I also learned, in contrast and thankful juxtaposition to them, in spite of them, that love is the only answer. Not as in some cheeky, chinsy, two-bit throw-out word. But a real action. A real, true, certified, bona fide action word that requires a person to quit being a lazy tosser-outter of fanciful words. And although they keep spitting mine back in my face (which I've done a terrible job at giving - it is difficult to gauge their reception and to know the right timing and I suck at all of it), I know it's a real thing. Real love is more than just words. It soothes, it heals, it aids in the recovery process of wounds, it protects, it grows. It is the silver thread that connects us all. It is the interest of the health of the other person. It's safe (not boobie trapped with guilt mines.) And it empowers. It builds. It lifts up. It does not destroy, as my dad was so keen to affect on us kids. Employed with the earnest lesson of thinking unselfishly but no doubt made empty by his (and my mom's) selfish advantage. (It was always about them.)

And I learned what self-respect was. And self-control. And that my own vile actions were a direct link to letting others control me. I learned because (step one:) I had two daughters that I wanted to teach how they are worthy of the love they got from me, that they could get it guilt-free, that they were worthy of good treatment by a man, to stand up for themselves; and (step two:) I finally found someone who loved all of me for me -- truly, thoroughly, protectively, gently, rationally loved me -- and was the only male and the first person in my entire existence on earth to get it through my thick skull that I was worthy of it. The only male and first person in my entire existence to show me what a amazingly rich and thoroughly loving and cool-breath-of-fresh-air healthy father/daughter relationship looks like because of his daughter. Watching them has helped me grow. Has helped me heal. And I do mean truly. No one else counts before T. No one.

I can appreciate that both of my parents autopilot-ed enough through life to provide opportunities for me to be in band (but I chose the smallest instrument so that it could be the cheapest for them), be in Girl Scouts (that was only mom, though, and she was there taping coupons to groceries on shelves for hours with me), have a few piano lessons.

But as for the men in my family, that is where it stops. The fact that my dad had a duty to correct such piss poor mentalities notwithstanding, the damage has been done by all three. I just have my dad to thank for instilling such stellar, pissant qualities in what has become the fabric of my brothers and such grievously negative attitudes towards me. They don't respect me, they certainly don't love me (how would they know how when they were only ever shown example of how to withdraw love, punish around it, and never, NEVER act upon it), and they certainly have skewed visions of love since Jesus hasn't been much of an example for any of them. (No, boys, you don't. You can't possibly. You wouldn't have the foggiest idea of the real thing if you tried. And even if you honestly, really did and I'm just the sour old sister here, where have you ever employed it?)  

I don't actually hold it personally. If a person wasn't taught better, how can they know better? I can at least say they're not terrible people. I know that Jesus' love calls me to live a life that produces like fruits, and so I have tried to initiate more conversations with them and open doors for them to say whatever they need to say, just in case, you know, they needed to get something off their chest. They've always buffed off my apologies, but you never know. I also know that I would apologize until the end of time if they needed it and answer for my transgressions. But I also know the other side of love and, even though I may have deserved some kind of admonishment for one moment or two or more in the past, as the older sister, the things they've said don't even amount to reproach. They amount to pissy anger. And. As the daughter and sister, I realize that open doors just invite more bullshit. Jesus wouldn't treat a woman that way; and Jesus wouldn't treat another as a contemptible piece of shit. Jesus had boundaries.

To be fair, I haven't been there much for my brothers, either, and I haven't an excuse. But it's the attitudes that make the point here. Terrible, shitty, broken attitudes that don't allow for reparation. And that's all Dad. Had he been a man who could have taken the lessons he imparted on me (!) about the love and mercy of Jesus, and been that gentle, loving, defending protector of not only my physical safety but my emotional and spiritual safety as well, maybe we would not be having this discussion. Maybe the boys would be more tender and be okay with being tender because they would understand that you can still be a big, muthafuckin' badass and still be tender. Jesus was the biggest badass of all and still he had time to be loving and merciful to EVERYONE, including his abusers. Which are all of us. Every last one of us. Jesus reaches out to us, has appeared to some of us, has extended drops of love and mercy which, even in their little parts, are huger than we could ever know of the full extent of His full love, even though we all put him on a cross.

But, at the risk of it all, fuck that whole bit about parents being human and trying. There are humans who try despite their misgivings, still fuck up, but have the idea in their minds to keep trying and make the love and protection the priority. And then there are just humans who don't make it a priority. Humans who are selfish, selfish parents. Humans who are lazy. Humans who are even too lost in their own temper tantrums about the way life did not turn out to focus on the right things and lead their children brightly. Where was the love? That is the difference. People who talk about Jesus. And people who try to live Jesus. The difference is not my perception about itemized interactions with any one of them. But that they still don't get why their way of doing it is maligned and disordered.

29 January 2017


So no.

No, you NEVER taught me what I was worthy of. Not once.

You talked and you preached and you pragmatized the shit out of theories, half-born ideas, and conspiratorial things. You instilled fear and jumpy response times.

You even spoke of the love we should have between us, father and daughter, even dreamt of passing on the culture to us kids and interspersing your fragmented views of that with ambiguous and broken pieces of your ideologies.

But your love was limited and limiting. And at the very least, broken.

I have been hurt by you in more ways than one and in overlapping accounts just by the recurring, overlapping sting that your negligence keeps doling out - like the ring of a bell long after it's been smacked - and I have begged and pleaded with God, with others, with friends and non-friends alike, for help to overcome the immeasurable myriad of complications to have come from that chasm.

But I could forgive all of that if only it hadn't rained on down through my brothers.... men whose views on women are poisoned as your own, ultimately and finally allowing them to label ME as oversensitive, telling me to "fuck off with [my] oversensitivity", as "not being able to take a joke" because degradation is somehow funny. Degradation of the human being is somehow okay. Forgetting the value that a saviour FAR greater than you has placed on the worth of a human soul. Somehow, in your bullshit, broken, "I don't need God" superior piety found in your maligned and disordered views, it's up to your victims to suck it up, it's never up to you to be the gentle protector.

And it doesn't matter how many times I've tried to rise above the nature of that portion of the relationships I have with each of you TO retain some kind of relationship with you, not one of you, not even the gentle brother of the two, can find it in your hearts to stop being royal dicks. It doesn't matter how much garbage I have to wade through to be someone you would want to talk to or have on your side, I can always trust that you will always turn, grindingly turn, carving out the ground in your spin as you revile me, and froth at the mouth. Because, heaven forbid, someone have an opinion you don't agree with. Heaven forbid I was actually sensitive and that be acceptible to you, dear brutes.

And OH MAN, does this feel/sound familiar. Oh, does it ever. Like a tattered, useless blanket would. Ugly but familiar. Grievously underqualified for its task to warm, but all you know and something you've always had to work with. Oh yes, I can dare identify it because it takes one to know one. How many YEARS have I spent controlling, manipulating people's responses. I didn't even know I was doing it and then when I did, I didn't know how much worse it had been because it was still seeping into every corner of my current relationship. How many relationships have I ruined or exchanges I've tainted with my easily butthurt, defensive, tantrumey, fit-throwing reactions! Oh yes, like a familiar blanket indeed. Sick and useless. Oh yes, the facade of warmth. Like as with many transgressions to have passed in our path.

So I propose nothing. I have no answers, no suggestions, not even an offer to strike a deal with. There is no such thing as negotiations with hardened men. I desire nothing, I hope for nothing. I just pray for the silence to move into walls that cannot be climbed.