Monday, June 11, 2012

Angry

Yesterday I was angry all day. It is fairly rare for Noah and I to fight. And when we do we don't raise voices much any more. We have quiet, intense conversations about things that are normally more emotionally intense for me than Noah. I assume. Based on the fact that I'm the only one crying.

It wasn't that many years ago, I was an adult, when my sister snickered at me and said, "Still cry when you are frustrated, huh?" Yeah. I do. When I am frustrated tears flow down my face. I don't sob, but tears come. It's not real fun. I can halt the process but I have to find a place of coldness in my heart. I try not to live there.

Most of what Noah and I struggle with is the fact that I have a major chip on my shoulder towards many things he represents. It is hard to not take my anger out on him as a representative member of groups. I am really angry in a visceral way that most of the world (or at least my country) considers what I do with my time worthless or a waste of time but oh man... Noah is smart and high status. Because he helps make it possible for people to watch ESPN videos online over and over. Yeah. The world fucking needs that. It is sooooo important. I don't object to him doing it. It pays the bills. But I resent like fuck the fact that I am shit when standing next to him. I am angry that I am discounted and unimportant compared to an engineer.

I have lost my feeling of impressed with engineers over the years. I see the ways in which they don't function all that well. They just don't seem as super human to me. I know what kind of slack-jawed morons sometimes graduate with engineering degrees. Mostly even the fucking morons treat me like they are much smarter than I am. They have a degree in something "real" not something lame like English. A language they are dubiously acquainted with even if it is their native language.

I deal with a lot of men who seem to think "engineer" means "always right". Yeah, it doesn't. If I want to get an opinion in your narrow little specialty, sure I'll ask you. Otherwise I'm going to feel angry when you pull out that condescending "I know everything" tone. You aren't my father, stop fucking lecturing me. For the record, Noah doesn't lecture me like this any more. We have worked on that. But he is a representative member of a group I have a problem with. This gets complicated.

Noah has done very little maintenance on this house since he bought it. He did a few things right when he moved in and then just let things be. Things are degrading. Things are going to need to be fixed and/or replaced. Noah feels that such work is not something he has to do. Someone else should be paid to do it. But we don't have the money for that. We won't for ten years. With each passing year I watch the spread of the black mold in the bathroom and watch the chinks in the grout grow. I'm sure we are doing damage to the wall. I'm terrified of what I will see when I open the wall. This is going to be hard to fix. I'm scared. Luckily I have a great relationship with the local building department (they know me!) and they are happy to sit down and explain things to me for very long periods. I will find out what all the city codes are and I will do the job right. I will cry a lot in the process. That will be ok too.

I feel like part of my anger is anger that I mostly get the 1950's ideal situation where I am the "little woman at home" only my husband doesn't do yard work. Or fix things. That's on me. I can do it. I'm god damn competent. But sometimes it feels like I'm getting the worst end of 1950's living and modern relationships. I get all the low status and lack of respect but I am expected to way the fuck more. I am expected to be a massively competent individual while being treated like an incompetent child. No Noah, not you.

Noah doesn't understand what it is like to move through the world with a different status. I run into men who talk down to me fucking constantly. I'm a mommy. I must be brain dead. He thinks I should just ignore it. It's not important what those idiots think of me. It's a broken and crazy system. That's a really fucking convenient thing for him to say when he doesn't regularly run into the problem of having to play the game or not be able to get shit done. I can't always say, "Wow. You are a condescending jack ass. Can I work with your manager, please?" If I am curt in response to someone being demeaning I generally get a fat load of hostility and they don't actually help me. I have to suck up to those assholes. How in the fuck can I just ignore them?

Noah doesn't understand because if I send him then their tone of voice changes. He can't see the problem. I must be imagining things. "If I can't see it then I can't judge it." He thinks I am over sensitive. I think most people aren't sensitive enough.

And then the Godmamas came over. Marcie asked me if I drill Shanna in numbers and I could feel the spout on the top of my head go off. I wanted to break something. She didn't mean it like that. We had a tense few minutes as I explained that I had already been angry before they arrived and I was having a hard time listening after that word because I felt really angry. She clarified that she hadn't really meant "drill" and she explained in detail what she did and how. We had a long conversation about educational stuff I do with Shanna. It was just tense. And I hate that I do that. I hate that I am so angry all the time.

I hate that I feel like I have no worth other than what I produce by "earning money". To be fair most women in my position go off and find social status in other ways. They become the organizers or the ones who do the grunt work.

I'm in a bad spot. For the next fifteen years of my life I'm going to have to deal with the parent community. The parent community is kind of a nightmare for me. When the other parents start spouting off shit like, "Marriage is between one man and one woman" I can't really say much. Because if I make those parents uncomfortable then they won't let their kid play with mine. I can't do that to Shanna. So I have to shut up and sit there.

When people tell me to find a different parenting group I laugh. It's been nightmarish finding one as local as this. And it isn't local. I don't really relish spending many hours in the van with Calli screaming at the top of her lungs so I can find a more on-the-surface liberal parenting group somewhere more expensive to live. Every option carries advantages and disadvantages. I can consistently get myself and the kids to these events because they are close enough. That means I have to not talk.

I'm angry. I'm kind of tired of being shamed into silence by society at large. Most of my life experience revolves around sex in some way. I had a lot of sex. I can't talk about most of my relationships or relationship structures. When I say that I am friends with my husband's ex-girlfriends people look at me like I grew another head. What? Occasionally I am asked how I can be friends with someone my husband has had sex with. I am truly bewildered by that question. Uhhh if I thought people who were former lovers had to be shunned I would have to leave the state. And be careful which state I picked to move to. I never have been to Ohio.

Noah tells me to ignore what people think about me. But what people think about me will determine a lot of how they treat my children. No, I can't ignore it. I truly can't. For me to not care and do whatever I want whenever I want would be for me to teach my children a not particularly functional way to live. There are certainly people in the world who like me plenty. I'm god damn careful how I act around them. Very few people find out my unfiltered thinking. It's not worth the hassle.

Everyone is socialized. I am a lot closer to being a wild animal than most adults. I wasn't properly domesticated as a child. When Noah says that I shouldn't think about what other people think it feels like lying. It feels like a manifestation of his god awful heap of privilege that he thinks I can get away with that. I can't. I can be "out" in some ways at some times in some places. I have to mostly keep my mouth shut.

I can't tell the women at the mommy group, "Gosh it seems kind of silly to worry about the people he has slept with when I have way more friends that I have slept with." I care about who he sleeps with going forward quite a bit. The past? I have to let that go. That's not about me. I'd like to lecture them about how ridiculous they are being.

The thing is, if I get in with the group and I keep my fucking mouth shut for five or ten years and they get to know me then I can "come out". Then it will be fine. People will have learned how to tolerate me already. But I can't fuck this up for my kids. I have to be quiet for a long time. I have to care what they think for a while.

I have to very carefully figure out what things I'm allowed to say. This is a homeschooling group. It's diverse.

I think I am partially so angry right now because I have kind of gotten used to being talked down to by men. When I show up in a group of women and get the same shit I want to break things. I think I hate women (in large groups) more than I hate men. I'm fucking tired of being shoved down the pecking order.

That is not really it though. I'm mad at Noah and I can't even figure out all of why. I think I am mad at him for not being able to rescue me from every hard thing. And honestly his advice on how to deal with them kind of sucks. I should probably take the other Godmama up on her offer to put me in touch with her mother. The godmama grew up with three parents in the house. That's complicated.

Noah does things. Noah works hard. I seem to have this giant chip on my shoulder because he doesn't do something that I have the expectation that he do. Unspoken expectations are bad news.

Noah appreciates me. He is nice to me. He is kind. He helps with a lot of chores. He tells me that he does the low status ones, like dishes. To that I think, "Scrubbing the toilet is much lower status."

I'm feeling scared. If I have no worth other than what I do as my "work" then all I am is a mom. That's not really a fair burden for my children. They should not be my entire prop of self-esteem. That's not functional. That's not healthy. I sure as shit am not going to keep having kids so that I can keep that role in my life forever. (Five kids! And counting! I'm keeping my mouth shut.)

When I was eighteen I bought a Hyundai Accent. I really liked that car. It gave me freedom and independence. I paid it off quickly so it wasn't even that much of an on-going expense. I covered the back of it with bumper stickers. Things like "I'm the one your parents warned you about."

I don't know how to deal with being the kid that everyone was told to stay away from because I was dirty and bad now that I am the parent. I still have those behaviors that got me ostracized over and over starting at three or four. I don't know how to do this. Joining groups is hell on earth. I have to care what these people think because I don't want my kids to have the same life I had. I want them to have stability. I feel broken. I feel bad. I want to sit there saying "fuck fuck fuck fuck" at the park. Seriously. That's what I want to do. I want to give everyone the heebie jeebies so they stay away from me and I don't have to smile and nod when they go off on their bigoted bullshit.

I'm mad at Noah because even he is a liar. Even he is wrong. He's not supposed to be. I'm supposed to be able to believe him. He is doing the best he can given his life experience. It is hard nearly every day. I have to stop and think really hard, "If I was a functional person what would I be doing?" Every day is a conscious choice to do a certain set of behaviors. I pick them as a compromise between what I want, what is best for the kids, and then I have to compromise between what I want and what other people will think.

I don't wear my "badass as a honey badger" shirt when I am out with my kids. People would treat my kids differently. I don't want that for them. It's stupid shit. But it's there. Always. I am rebellious and inappropriate. You have no idea what my unfiltered thoughts are. I am a very angry person.

Noah doesn't understand because he has his "work persona" which is different from the rest of his life. But he doesn't filter as much for random people. He doesn't understand that my "the rest of my life" is my job. And I don't know what the tolerances are on my behavior yet. I don't have a good way to figure out the group.

Other than teaching I haven't had a phase of my life that wasn't centered around someone I was fucking in a social group. Not so much an option in the mom-group. Just sayin'. But that tension is there. It's hard.

I went in and renewed my medical marijuana card. When I was talking to the doctor (who is starting to recognize me after so many times of seeing him) he asked me how I handled dealing with talking about pot with my kids. "There are only so many times you can tell them a skunk was in the back yard." I told him that I don't lie to my children. I tell them I use a medication because chemicals in my brain are kind of wonky. That happens sometimes. If you do not need a medication it can make you very sick so never take a medication unless you know for sure that you need it. That is what I tell my kids about pot. He said it was just like being age appropriate when talking about sex. I started crying.

I have to look up in books how to be age appropriate about sex. When I was Shanna's age I was offering up blow jobs to the neighbor kids. I don't know what "age appropriate" is. I truly don't. In the pit of my stomach I know that what I know is bad. That's all I know. It's hard. It's scary.

Shanna knows that her nipples, vulva and butt are off limits to other people. They are just for her. If anyone touches them she needs to let me know because it is my job to help her stay safe. Mostly she just doesn't spend unsupervised time around people. Shanna knows that sex is for grown ups because kids have delicate bodies and they aren't ready yet.

I feel scared because I am bringing up children in a country that is moving backwards. I'm watching my rights recede as ignorant men vote them away. I'm scared. I'm scared to travel because I have to submit to intimate touching that feels degrading. I'm scared that something will happen and I will have depended on Noah and then I will get screwed. Because I was stupid enough to think that his status transfered to me. I'm a low status person. I really don't think I will ever cease to be white trash. That's just going to be life for me.

How do I keep the filth off of my kids? How do I let Noah make them more like him than like me without feeling invisible and unimportant and stupid and wrong and bad. I don't know.

5 comments:

  1. I don't know you well enough to have a sense of whether you want to "discuss" here what you write about here, but I find your writing extremely engaging so, until I learn otherwise, I'll pretend you do. If you tell me to knock it off I will, my feelings will not be hurt and my (presently high) opinion of your writing will not be diminished.

    For what it's worth: I sort of let my kids self-determine age-appropriateness for themselves, though I do put my thumb on the scale. I have been talking to them about sex since they acquired language but I use the same sort of very pedagogical tone I'd use to explain how to load the dishwasher or why rising gasoline prices might be good for everybody. Their bored eyes glaze over and they tune it out, but the information maybe registers and (I very sincerely hope) I'll never have to have "the talk." My oldest is just now 13 and sprouting lip hair, so I'm about to find out whether I've been deluding myself on this or not.

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  2. How much do you think it's a class issue vs. gender issue?

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    1. Krish - those in particular are often hard to tease apart...

      In fact, a number of related types of issues are quite hard to tease apart.

      You can get some hints in this specific case by the fact that rich people simply do not *do* that kind of work, regardless of gender. Very high-status people might do so but wouldn't, in the current social climate, talk about doing so. A few specific cases (changing your own oil, say) might be talked about, but they'd be considered a signal or affectation. If Barack Obama were to change his own oil, he'd be doing it as a symbol, not because we assume rich people all change their own oil. Similarly, the base assumption is that Michelle Obama doesn't do the dishes nightly.

      Not suggesting that politically-different people are different that way. Just that the Obamas are a fine example of a high-status family.

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  3. I was more referring to he engineerings looking down on you thing and wonder how much of that was a gender thing. There's been a lot of press about misogyne in the tech industry and I have friends with strong feelings about that.

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  4. I do not think it is useful to make it easy to watch ESPN videos. Just saying. It is a thing that I am paid to do, so what the fuck. Sure, I will accept the money for other peoples' values. It's just a job. (I get that my attitude is different from others'. My boss asked me if it is a fun place to work. I said, neutral. I did not snort derisively. My career has flaws but at least it's good money.)

    It is different for men to ignore criticism in our culture. I ignore it. It is important to me to be strong enough to work around the problems that causes. Most days, I need a battle cry to get through my life. Maybe that's why I think I don't have energy for kids. Nobody tells me that I'm doing a man's job but we all know it. I watch people dismiss what I say and it takes a toll.

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