Thursday, April 30, 2009
The hardest thing about watching Obama's campaign and subsequent inauguration: we still failed to hear mention of equality for women. Somehow in the last 90 or so years since the first feminist revolution we have forgotten an entire history of sexism. What makes female oppression so unique is this: it is spread across almost all cultures, religions, traditions, countries, races, histories and governments. It’s not so cut and dry as black and white, because as my boyfriend aptly pointed out last night: women need men, and men need women. The relationship between the races is not the same. Even in a horribly racially divided society, we can still on the very baser biological level, survive. This is one of the many reasons we've forgotten, and continue to ignore, sexism.
I did not feel inspired by Obama's election. I thought to myself: this seems okay. He is black, after all. A minority that must be represented. But what about the silent majority? When will I hear someone stand up and make people confront the fact that oppression of women is so deeply rooted in our culture that we don't even believe it still exists. When will I hear someone stand up and say, "Feminism is not a dirty word!”
Well, maybe I’ll just say it now: FEMINISM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.
As part of a younger generation of women (I am in my twenties), I have continually felt attacked both by men and other women for calling myself a feminist. There seems to be a general idea attached to the concept of feminism: that women believe they are ultimately superior to men and thus would like to do away with men altogether. Perhaps the most startling demonstration of this idea was in an undergraduate law class, for which I led a discussion on feminist law. One woman chimed in that "men are discriminated against too. Women are so selfish to think they deserve more. I feel so sorry for men for having to put up with feminists." ... !!!!!!! Needless to say my head exploded. I couldn't understand why women would not want the same rights as men! Perhaps my peer was afraid if she demanded better treatment, she would scare away all men and die alone.
Back to the point before: women need men. This is perhaps what's preventing a majority from demanding better treatment. It seems as though, since we got the vote less than a hundred years ago, we have settled for marginally better on the surface, rather than demand what we initially wanted: freedom to individuals with the same civil rights as others. Freedom to be viewed as an individual regardless of gender.
This all sounds so terribly familiar. Freedom to be an individual not judged based on a pigeonholed cultural group to which no one has a choice of membership?
All I want to say is this: in the midst of an American triumph, a political statement, a human rights revolution, I still feel under-represented. Actually, I feel unrepresented. Because no one even acknowledges that it's still a problem. Ask anyone if they think women deserve more rights - guaranteed most people would believe the sexes are now equal. Then count how many women presidents there have been: none. You can change the laws, but you can't change history.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I don't want any part of my boyfriend's four children. We have been dating for over a year and every time he asks me to meet them, I have an excuse ready. They are a constant reminder that he had another life with another woman, and that our life can never be our own. I know I sound really insecure, and I am about this, but I can't help resenting them, the time he has to spend with them and the way my life (if I stay with him) has already been decided for me. I'm not sure I want to have four step-children. I don't have any children of my own and I want our own life with our own baby, one that doesn't include four children that honestly, I don't care about. They're not mine and I don't want them. This is the only issue we have in our relationship. At Christmas, I went to my family's and he actually went to his ex-wife's house to see his kids. Is it just me or that really inappropriate? I think if you are in a new relationship, you need to set boundaries, and do things to make the other person feel more comfortable. I love my boyfriend and everything about him, except his children. I am just so sick of having to put my own feelings and desires on hold, because "the kids need me", "the kids..." WHAT ABOUT ME???? I feel like our life together is being held back because of them. What should I do? As I've never been in this situation before, I don't know if after meeting the kids it gets easier, or if I should break up with him? The last thing I want to do is end things with this guy, but I have to do what is best for me in the end.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Liz Lemon has done it again. Put a window on something that, in retrospect, felt close to the truth…
Last time was the reunion episode. Weeks later, when wondering idly why some people from high school still haven’t ‘friended’ me – when they had friended others. Not just ‘the popular kids,’ but even kids more off-the-grid, now FRIENDING the ‘popular kids.’ Then, the episode came back to me.
Liz was at her reunion, and discovered that she was mean in highschool. That her reverse-snubbing, her snub-or-be-snubbed was NOT invisible. That the popular kids didn’t like her because she wasn’t likable.
I laughed and payed no real attention. Thought it wasn’t one of the better episodes.
Later – much later – weeks later… **gasp** …
When you are 15-16-17, sharp-witted and imagine yourself slightly better than those around you – the prettier ones, the more together ones, the ones who aren’t so afraid of trying, of proving themselves, of fitting in… ooops.
You become Liz. Snarky, with thinly-veiled quick-witted asides that are – oops again – sarcastic and more than a little mean.
I thought then that those honor role kids just didn’t get me. The truth was something else. I just didn’t want to play. And thought I should get by on my (under-appreciated) looks and (underexercised) raw intelligence.
OK. So flash-forward. Now those same kids – the ones who tried? Who made it all important when, I, in my infinite wisdom (and 2.75 GPA) suspected it wasn’t? Those kids have kids. And their kids are in private school. And they play with my kids. My kids who are woefully unprepared.
I could list the reasons why, or how they are unprepared: mom works, mom is scatter-brained, mom is not wealthy, mom has no idea what the rules are… but the truth is this: Mom doesn’t want to play.
On last night’s 30 Rock, we saw the return of Dr.Drew Baird. (Moment of silence, please, to acknowledge my disproportionate love of Jon Hamm…) The premise was that he is so good-looking that people expect little of him, and fill him with lies. So he’s a doctor that doesn’t know the Heimlich, is awful in bed, and cannot play tennis – and has never waited in a line.
Again, good show. I laughed. I was mad that Jon Hamm was leaving again, (c’mon Liz! Do you HAVE to be the bearer of Truth?) and I laughed harder when Jack Donaghy explained The Bubble and the loss of the Bubble. I laughed ‘cuz it was funny, right? A ridiculous premise?
Oh, shit. I laughed ‘cuz it’s True!
At the risk of being exposed as more narcissistic than I feel (although I guess even narcissism has its roots in self-loathing, but I digress) – I was driving home from my son’s third grade play almost in tears and realized… ooops… I GOT IT!
Now, the almost-tears were for a number of reasons. Chief trigger was that the set looked great. I had derided the moms that made a big deal of the set – thinking that this is third grade, they are walking up to microphones, the play isn’t blocked, each character is shared by six kids, etc. And TWO of my props were rejected as inadequate, and my son’s Zukerman costume was Not Quite Right, even though we got the same Farmer Costume memo as every other mom.
The secondary trigger was the Perfect Moms who told me afterward that my son was great – Moms whose children I did not know, moms themselves whose names are filed somewhere in my back brain where they cannot be accessed as I am trying to anonymously high tail it out of a multimillion dollar performance facility (where my son just performed a walk-up-to-the-mike rendition of a play written for about 8 kids along with 59 of his closest friends.)
You see, friends, I lived in The Bubble. Because while high school may not be kind to the I-think-I-am-prettier-and-
All the sudden – for a minute, maybe, or for something like six or seven years – I was IT.
I ran in a circle with famous people for a college internship and later, I had a great job. I had loads of friends, I had loads of sex, and I had great hair. I dressed well and drove free German cars. I was connected. Professionally, personally… I felt untouchable. I flirted as I breathed. I got promoted. I worked way over my head, and I gathered in large chummy packs at the neighborhood bar in the tony neighborhood… that I walked to.
Because no one ever accused me of making things look easy, I assumed my aggressive wheel spinning and frenetic pace meant I really was working hard.
I assumed, that somehow, without actually working for it… I had earned it. I believed my press.
My eventual husband believed it, too – he would say later that his initial impression was that I was ‘out of his league,’ he imagined that I had it together – because there was so much of it, and it looked confusing to the outsider.
I was In the Bubble.
And inside, it actually was confusing. But it was contained, somewhat.
All that happened, besides growing up and getting married and having kids and folding into private schools (quite by accident, but again I digress) is that I outgrew the bubble. And now? 40, with those intrepid kids in tow … the bubble is gone.
The mess is no longer contained by the walls of the bubble, and I am exposed to the (god love him, still-with-me) husband. I am invisible among those working harder, with more qualifications and a more complete rule set. My confusion confuses them. They expect more of themselves… shoudn’t I?
Inside the bubble was better.
So, somehow? Now, I guess? It’s time to grow up. Or at least fake it a whole lot better.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I have no clue what the hell to do.
I have no example to go from.
I didn't have a mom from 3 until I was 11. Well I did, but she was drinking, drunk or passed out. Her mood depended on time of day and drink of choice. She wasn't volunteering to be the Cookie mom for scouts. She wasn't helping my class. She wasn't chaperoning the class trip or teaching us about art. She wasn't taking me to the park. She took me to the store down the street occasionally, but only when she was out of her drink of choice. She was either passed out, screaming at me to do stuff around the house, or telling me I was a waste.
I hated staying home sick.
Don't even ask about other family as everyone was working full time when I was born.
I remember being three, sitting on my Holly Hobby comforter and watching I Love Lucy and eating Oreos and Pepsi for lunch because she was already drunk and passed out. I was hungry and had to eat what I could reach. Or the time I had to tell the bus driver for my Early Childhood program that I couldn't go because I had no clean pants. Or having to go to grade school in clothes that didn't match because that was what was clean and I had to get my self to school on time so the school wouldn't have to call home and say I was late. How I stayed in that house is a mystery to me still.
The parenting books don't handle this. Their father is no help as he was raised by his grandma while his mom was busy making sure the younger brother stayed alive and his dad worked constantly or was drunk and passed out. Their father thinks I'm doing fine. I have my doubts constantly and frequently.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
When I first met my husband I felt sorry for his mother. My soon to be in-law's were going through a nasty divorce that was, upon first glance, caused by my fathers-in-law's blatant and embarrassing infidelity. He was living with another woman while still being married to my MIL. What I have learned after a few years of inclusion in this family, is that I cannot blame him for leaving her. His choices, actions, and lack of recognition for the hurt he caused his children will never be acceptable to me, but I now understand why he couldn't take it from her any more. The woman is a Master Manipulator. The reason that I am writing is because it has begun to affect my relationship with my husband, and I need an place to blow some steam.
My husband is a good man. He is a lover, a provider and a terrific friend to me. I love him dearly and he loves me. He recognizes that his mother has weaseled her way between his siblings and their spouses by being that sympathetic garbage dump for all their problems (which she then shares with everyone else in the family). The problem, my problem, is that he does not recognize was she is doing as it pertains to me. He excuses every one of her words and actions that hurt me. I have heard him say things like "You are taking her the wrong way" "She doesn't think things through that far" "You are exaggerating" "Just get along" over and over again. I have had it with her, and there is going to be a big nasty fight soon if something doesn't give. Maybe there needs to be a big nasty fight. I have spent way too much time stewing.
I looked up the definition of the word manipulate and this is what I found:
tr.v. ma·nip·u·lat·ed, ma·nip·u·lat·ing, ma·nip·u·lates
- To move, arrange, operate, or control by the hands or by mechanical means, especially in a skillful manner: She manipulated the lights to get just the effect she wanted.
- To influence or manage shrewdly or deviously: He manipulated public opinion in his favor.
- To tamper with or falsify for personal gain: tried to manipulate stock prices. (From Dictionary.com)
Manipulators often make requests or demands by playing on your affections and your guilt. Spot manipulative comments like "If you loved me, you would (or wouldn't) do this" or the converse: "Since you insist on doing this, I can no longer love or trust you." There are no gray areas with manipulators. If you don't perform as they wish, there is something lacking in you. (From "How to spot a manipulator" on ANSWERBAG)
The definition "To tamper with or falsify for personal gain" makes me sick. This isn't a phrase that should be able to define how someone deals with family. I feel like she has tampered with me. I haven't fit what her idea of family is, and was told these words "You are married to (insert hubby's name) now. You're an (insert family name) now. This is how we do things". I don't think that my husband always sees her manipulation for what it is because she is very skillful at it.
I haven't handled this well from the start. I conceded to whining about her instead of presenting facts to my husband from a standpoint of logic. I can understand why he has a difficult time taking this from me. Maybe he does see the manipulation, but doesn't think her motive is bad, so he lets it go. I mean, after all she wants is a close family...just on her terms.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Let me tell you about this man I know- I call him my father-in-law, because my husband calls him "Dad." Really? He was the shittiest kind of stepfather, withholding love, affection and worthwhile gifts while showering my husband's sister, his bio-child, with everything that he could. But my husband doesn't seem to resent it, he still calls him Dad.
My "father-in-law" has Hepatitis C. He also has a secondary disease that I have alluded to above that I like to call "Serious Asshole Disease." He has had Hepatitis C now for going on fifteen years- I have been with my husband for six of those years. During the first two, I rarely saw him. We were young, and the only time he came out of his room was to pull the intimidation route (note to parents, also to self- intimidating your kid's friends and/or significant others will not make them like you) At the top of the third year, he came out of his room and started smoking pot. Then drinking. My mother-in-law packed up and left- she said that if he could not live for his family, couldn't leave that back bedroom to eat dinner or talk to his kids but he could do so for drugs and alcohol then she didn't want anything to do with him anymore. He then started doing Pharmaceuticals. He swore he wasn't. Years pass, this behavior continues. We took him to the hospital last Christmas Eve because whatever he was on started a major GI bleed. (He lived.) That was my daughter's first Christmas Eve.
He came home and managed to fall and hurt himself on the next major holiday (I couldn't make this up, this kind of thing always happens on a holiday)That time he was just drunk. He turned a corner then, said that he had changed. My mother-in-law took him back. My sister-in-law started talking to him again. My husband believed him, hell, I believed him. He was convincing.
A month later the Hep C started kicking his butt. He ended up in the hospital and things got weird- he was disoriented and "off"- he even cursed out my preacher- but that was the disease. When liver failure starts kicking in majorly, it causes some people to lose their heads a bit, or so I am told. He got out of the hospital and went to all of his appointments, and got on the liver transplant list for our state.
Three months in, and we start noticing weirdness. He would get oddly aggressive when talking to people, stirring people up, even when talking to my not quite two year old. Have you ever seen somebody pick at a child until the kid is screaming and they are all the while laughing while the child is upset? That's what he does. One night I saw him fix a drink and take a swig. We made eye contact, and he poured it down the drain. I was still angry, so I asked him why he was drinking again. He told me a sip wouldn't hurt him. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and husband confronted him, and he mocked them.
This month he went to a checkup at the liver doctor. He quit smoking for two weeks and didn't drink for a bit and went for his checkup. The doctor moved him down the list, said that he was doing better. That was three weeks ago, he is now drinking openly, smoking again, and I acting a lot like he's back on the pharmeceuticals again. Today he went to the regular doctor and was supposedly told that he's better now! He doesn't need a new liver at ALL, and he is off the list. I think he got kicked off, that they found something in his blood system that proves that he isn't a good candidate for a new organ.
He isn't a good candidate. Hep C causes cirrosis of the liver. A new liver will give the Hep C patient a good chance to live a LONGER life, but it isn't the golden ticket. He will always have Hepatitis C. If he won't behave, then he will destroy the new liver too.
We have tried confrontation, we have tried trusting him. I even told him that if nobody cared then we wouldn't ask about it, would not even ask about the drinking. We don't know the truth about the doctor visits, we don't have a clue what is going on.
I am angry. He made my husband's childhood so hard, and now his twenties too. He has no respect for my mother-in-law or any of my husband's or my family. I wish that if he was going to commit suicide, that he would just do it already and save us all the pain of watching this destruction. He told my sister-in-law that he didn't care if he lived to walk her down the isle later this year or not. We've asked if he was depressed- he mocked us.
I don't want to see my kid get hurt by this man. She is his first grandkid and he doesn't seem to care - she is only two, but she is a very AWARE two year old, you know?
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
(This post was written, in part, in response to a topic on Momversation a few months back. The original discussion - "Which is harder: marriage or parenting?" - can be found here.)
Which is harder, marriage or parenting?
In my case, marriage is definitely the harder. I wasn't so keenly aware of it before having children, but now, as a parent, it seems to me that the kind of romantic love I felt for the most important men in my life, including my husband, was always driven fundamentally by the desire to have children. I now have a boy and a girl (ages 5 and 3 respectively), and I struggle daily with the fact that I cannot seem to muster the slightest physical desire for my husband (or any man for that matter). In fact, I mostly experience revulsion, anger and impatience whenever I am touched by my husband. By contrast, my desire for intimacy with my children is overwhelming. I never tire of gazing on them, holding them, hugging and kissing them, tickling and cuddling with them. And they respond with a yearning and receptiveness I feel I've never experienced from any man. But I see that my husband often feels toward me the way I feel toward the kids. It is the one black cloud in my life that I cannot reconcile, except out of a sense of duty and guilt.
It seems so unfair that before I had my babies, I lived almost entirely in the hopes of finding a man who would let me lavish my passions on him. Most of them sensed a trap, I suppose, and fled. But not my husband. And I loved him, or so I thought, until my children came along. Now he wants me back, and I don't know what to do, because I don't want him. This feeling is beyond my control; it owns me. And what is frightening is that I cannot tell whether the intolerance I have for his total way of being is a hormonal, stage-of-life type of thing, or whether I actually don't care for him as a person. My husband is handsome, kind, smart, and above all, a magnificent father. We are very different. He is a pragmatic, hardworking, plain-speaking man. He is a professor in science and technology studies. I have lived my whole life in the arts world. We have different tastes and sensibilities. But we parent well together; and our strengths and differences seem to complement each other. I just don't know why I can't desire him. I feel like a wretch for not being able to summon any gentle feelings for him (except occasionally pity, because I think he deserves so much more affection from me than he gets).
Parenting is not easy; I've sought counseling to deal with conflicts with my son that sometimes seem insoluble. But I somehow feel like parenting is a safer and more "natural" territory for me than marriage. What kind of work can one do to improve a marriage when the whole idea of a relationship with a man is unappealing?
Monday, April 06, 2009
So a couple weeks our house was broken in to and all the bandit took was our laptop. First of all I felt violated that someone had come in to our home and second I was pissed because it had all of our photos on it. Including some naughty photos of me that were meant for my husband when he is away on business trips.
Well after a month of having it missing it miraculously reappeared on our doorstep. So much porn had been look at and pulled up on the internet that it made the hard drive slow and now we get a pop up every 5 minutes. Not to mention that my private photos had been used as the "wallpaper". So if you can imagine I felt sick about this. Someone in my neighborhood (most likely a teenager) has seen and used those pics for his own pleasure. Gross!
Well I told my mom thinking she might be sympathetic and outraged as I was. Not that I expected her to be able to do anything about it but I would have liked to had someone other than my husband worry with me. But what did she do? she laughed! Like I had just told the funniest joke in the world! What the fuck! "Why are you laughing?" I asked? "Well you shouldn't have taken those pictures for yourself" She continued laughing. "Um don't laugh, its not even a little bit funny! I shouldn't have told you" I said. I hung up.
Am I the only one in the world that saw the seriousness of this situation? Fuck! I'm pissed off at the little bugger that took my computer and violated me and my personal space.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
I need help here people, h-e-l-p.....
My Bestie has a new man after 10 years. She is deliriously happy. He is younger, good looking, devoted, besotted. He is in theatre. -Ish.
He is also a wanker. Bless him.
A lovable wanker but a wanker nonetheless.
My husband, in particular, thinks he is a wanker.
Recently he has become involved with a 'very good band'. They are doing a show together for an arts festival next year. We want to hire the band for the presentation evening of a national competition.
We stated quite clearly that we were paying for 6 band members, not 7. We do not want my Bestie's beloved in his clown outift doing juggling tricks in front of said (very good) band and associated interstate audience.
Recently she has noted that we are lucky because he will be an 'free added extra', to rev up the crowd.
OH MY GOD.
My husband has specifically stated that he does NOT want, nay he would be EMBARRASSED by said beloved boyfriend cavorting somewhat incongrously in front of 'very good ' band.
What the **** am I going to do?
Even if I risk upsetting my Bestie by telling her that we do not want her (very sensitive and insecure) beloved.....how does she tell HIM????? How can I put her in that position?
How do I tell my husband that the embarrassing boyfriend will be giving us the benefit of his expertise FREELY!!!!!!??????? Whether we want him to or not?
I have the sinking, breath excising feeling of being trapped, underwater, between two very, very sharp rocks.............
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I want to go back and start again. This isn't the life I wanted. Not what I hoped for. And, calculating for the average lifespan, it's already more than half over. I am 43.
From the outside looking in, I'm sure it appears to be a good life. I have a good job. I managed, by myself, to raise a fine and successful daughter. Now that she is on her own, I have no real responsibilities other than my pets and my work. It seems that I should be happy.
But I am, at my core, alone. A crushing, pervasive loneliness that has plagued me since childhood. A solitary child at heart, I was forced to spend much time with a succession of babysitters while my Mom worked a staggering schedule after my father left us when I was 2. There were precious few programs for working mothers to avail themselves of in the late 1960's and early 1970's, so I was often shuffled from sitter to sitter, from family member to family member after school, on vacations and during the summer. My mother simply did the very best she could. I compensated by living another life in my head. A life with a family who surrounded me. Protected me. In my imaginary life, I was not a lonely, only child. I had older brothers who protected me. A father who didn't walk away. A mother who was able to devote time and attention to me instead of collapsing from exhaustion at the end of an 18 hour day.
As I grew into a teenager and young adult, the life in my head became less like a reality and more like a dream. The dream of a husband and kids and a house and happiness. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted a lot of kids. The hope of that dream sustained me. Even when I was at my lowest, I could always call upon the promise of that life.
The life in my head was the life I wanted. It still is.
Instead, I have a life that I have managed, in all honesty, to completely screw up. Other than my mother and my daughter, I have no close relationships.
I have not been in a relationship with a man for 20 years. Prior to that, I ruined every relationship I was in. I don't know how to change that. I don't know if I can. Maybe it's simply too late.
I just know that I don't want to spend the rest of my years lonely and alone. I want to lay next to someone again and whisper my deepest thoughts to them in the dark. I want to reach for someone's hand when I need strength and know that familiar touch will comfort me. I don't want to face the rest of my life by myself.
I still want that life in my head, but after all these years, maybe it's time to give up the dream.