I’ve had time to ruminate on several thoughts I’ve had over the last few weeks. Overall, I think my tendency to ruminate is a positive in the long run. Because despite the times I come to bad conclusions, they don’t last. Because I know deep down they are false, a product of pain. My relentless inner pursuit of what drives me, what hurts me, inevitably leads to positive conclusions.
One of my father’s favorite things to tell me was,”You think you’ve got it so bad. Well, my father used to make me go cut a switch from the yard so he could beat me with it.”
I always felt bewildered when he said this. How was the fact he was beaten by a switch as a child related to how I was being abused now? As a cop, could he really say, if you’re not being beaten with a switch then you’re not being abused. Except my stepmother did things that as an adult I’d have zero problems calling CPS over. Now in my 30s, I’m able to translate the things he said to me. It all boils down to “You’re a burden. Don’t you know you’re a burden? Aren’t you ashamed for existing and causing me hardship?”
I understand now that though I was treated as an unworthy burden by my father and stepmother, I was just a child. I had no responsibility for their hardships. I will not feel shame for existing and taking up space. They didn’t want me, and that hurts. Probably will for a long time. Maybe I will always feel hollow. But I can start with discarding the ideas they lodged inside me.
If I could go back in time, to one of the many times he said the switch bit, I would say one thing to him: “I’m sorry that happened to you.” I think it’d blow his mind.
Another revelation. My discovery of gender critical feminism has helped me realize a lot of things. I don’t like the relentless sh1tting on of MTF transgenders the GC community seems to do, but the basics have opened my eyes. I am fine the way I am. I don’t need to alter my body, get chest surgery. The problems I have with my body are the result of powerful self image issues and the notion that since I am more masculine than the average female, I need to physically be male. The problem with gender, sunk deep into the consciousness of our society, is the idea that you have to be one or the other. I can be who I am, as a woman, as a female, and be masculine. I don’t have to live as a man. I don’t have to live as a femme woman either.
If society accepted feminine men and masculine women, there would be exponentially less harm in this world. As an addendum, I am not trying to shame anyone who is trans, who hasn’t transitioned, wants to transition, or already has. I do not attempt to erase or negate trans people, or imply their struggle to simply be is their own fault.
My reality is that I am a large framed, somewhat butch, non-conventionally attractive female. This is fine. I have trouble relating to femme women, exacerbated by the abuse I suffered from an ultra-femme woman. My father accepted and allowed her to do it, because he didn’t value me much, if at all. I embarrassed him. He couldn’t tell his neighbors, co-workers, family about how I was hitting all the feminine milestones. Attractive, dating (anyone), a cheerleader, popular at school. I was a chubby little wallflower with no interest in dating or makeup, who spent hours with her nose in a book or glued to the computer. Not someone that brought glory to him.
Time and experiencing people who had loving parents has made me understand that he wore the mantle of “father” in name only.
Maybe one day I will have a child, my own or adopted, that I can practice unconditional love upon. Not the “you’re a burden, be ashamed” variety my father practiced, nor the “I can’t take care of you or myself, but I love you” variety of my mother. Something whole. Something wonderful.
Maybe until then I can start trying to practice it on myself, and on those I haven’t pushed away yet.
I am getting somewhere. I am, however painfully, however slowly, moving towards a better place. I’ve been doing it on my own. A good shrink would help me move a little more speedily towards it.
I feel relief right now in this moment. A lessening of pain. It won’t last, and that’s okay. Time will help me embed these revelations into my psyche.