I carry my trauma with me. I carry it, in my heart…
This is a continuation of On Grief, about coping with the reality of my father’s death, his damn near villainous wife at the time, amid familial pressures to forgive despite genuinely not wanting to.
I once got into a back and a forth on Twitter with some guy about patriarchy and gender roles, and yadda, yadda yadda… and at one point the guy shot back that my problem with men was that I had daddy issues. When I asked who he thought caused those issues, he ignored the question and moved the conversation up-thread, refusing to acknowledge the reality that my “daddy issues,” have been in fact caused by men themselves.
I have a complicated relationship with fathers, biological, adoptive, and surrogate. I inherently resist the idea that I am secondary, and must submit to anyone, and men (often potential romantic partners), and fathers (not now, Freud), have a habit of approaching me with the assumption that it’s their right to dominate me.
The problem is: I have a habit of seeing myself as a fully formed person. Some aspects of my personality don’t have a thing to do with men, if you can believe it. My mother’s side of the family is mostly composed of women, and they nurtured me, encouraged and praised me for being bright. As an adult, I spend a lot of my time in female dominated spaces like with the RWA and in ballet class. So for a man to step in and try to assert dominance in my reality by force, and not by being worthy of it, not by earning it, is bullshit^infinity, and a recipe for chaos.
I’ve dealt with an element of this, “extension of self,” feeling with my mother, but it never had the layer of absolute disdain I get from men. In their eyes, they are the lead characters in my story, and I am secondary, my wants and needs already assumed as frivolous in comparison. I should be grateful for their validation (seriously, I literally had a guy ask me, “Aren’t you grateful that you met me?” on a coffee date) and refusing not to go quietly into my assigned role is a problem. It’s still a problem, but it’s a problem that doesn’t belong to me.
Yes, this is about misogyny
I have said, more than once, that my only regret is that Jose never got over himself in time to value what he had. Jose had a home, a wife that, honestly, was way out of his league in her prime, and bent over backwards to accommodate his whims, and two sensitive daughters who were ravenous for positive reinforcement. And yet, he lorded over us with an iron fist, never seemingly satisfied, and with a disposition that defaulted at irritable.
Him: I’m the man of the house.
Me: No one is forcing you to be here.
Him: I worked all day.
Me: So did I.
Him: What are you doing awake?
Me: I’m at the top of the stairs and facing the bathroom, what do you think?
My mother: Andreina, respect your father.
Me: I’ll respect him when he starts respecting me.
I know now, as an adult, that these behaviors all stem from issues of control. I know that neither my particular experience or Jose himself are special in any way. I know that we live in a society that has long conditioned men to believe that freedom from accountability, dominance, access to women’s bodies, plural, and their emotional labor are their inherent right. Happy and healthy relationships with women are a direct threat to that.
Jose needed to control us so that he could indulge in his own vices without question. He needed a tense home life to justify his roving eye. Jose, like men like him, treated me and his family like an obligation to justify what he really wanted: the right to leave his options open, to do as he pleased, carving out a sense of owed freedom out of the sense of obligation he himself created and maintained. And when it came down to it, when it became clear that he needed to change, he couldn’t untangle his sense of self from his compulsive need to perform masculinity.
The outcome? He married Miriam, the physical manifestation of his anxieties about women. From what I’ve heard, he was a complete pushover for her, becoming what he’d always feared. When he was dying, Miriam kept his own daughter from being able to see him. After his death, she hasn’t even bothered to place a marker on his grave.
How this story ends
This is just to say, Miriam is the worst…
I’m not angry, not any more. I got most of that out of my system in my 20s. I don’t even have the energy to be smug about all this, just sad. Sad that Jose sabotaged his own happiness for an ideology. Sad that men like him can’t see toxic masculinity for the harmful propaganda that it is. Sad that misogyny is the antithesis for healthy personality development, but also very aware that it’s not for me to fix.
There comes a time when shaping your future is more important than unpacking the past. I am not at all 100% over it, but I’m getting better. Therapy helps. I couldn’t control my childhood, but I can control my adulthood. And I don’t care what anyone says, working through your issues with professionals in a constructive way is much more effective than wearing it on your sleeve and blurting it out to whomever is within earshot. (Seriously, stop discouraging people from getting the help they need. I don’t care if you don’t believe in medication, it exists.)
I agree with my mother. I think it would be a good idea to cobble some cash together and get Jose a marker. It’s simply the barest human thing to do. But I have no ill will, and I have no desire to spit on Jose’s grave.
I’d have to find it first.
Happy Father’s Day