They will all be there. They will tell jokes that poke fun at the disenfranchised and the poor. They will make snarky comments that remind the women that they are lesser-than the men, and when they do, the women will laugh just as much as the men do. It is a good woman’s job to help the men feel that they are funny, witty, and a pleasure to be around, even at (and often at) their own expense.
I will try to pretend I didn’t hear the jokes, because I can’t laugh (since it actually reflects how they really do think), and I can’t respond, even softly, with my true thoughts and feelings unless I want to be told that something is wrong with me, that I can’t take a joke… Even though if I made a comment that did not paint conservative Republicans in a favorable light, they would get real emotional, real quick. Their reactions are valid, though, so it’s different if they get upset. They would be merely defending what is right and good in the world, after all. And I would get dirty looks from the women for upsetting the nice happy time we were all pretending to have.
Happy Father’s Day.
I do not visit my family of origin very often. I love them. But I do not fit with them. They’ve said as much themselves, wondering aloud how I came to be born of them.
In my heart of hearts, I think they are more dreamer, artist, visionary, wild thinkers than they know. They just shut it down early on and didn’t allow it to wake up when it tried to flutter back to life. Waking up is a bloody thing. Breaking out of the egg shell, the tightly confined and safe home, hurts. It really does hurt. Everyone who does it bears their fair share of scars, wounds, some still open and throbbing.
I don’t fault them for not waking up. I understand. I almost didn’t do it. It’s dangerous. It was the compulsion that powered me through, that strange mysterious sense that inner life or death hung in the balance. I couldn’t stop breaking through the egg, even when I just wanted to stay there, half-born, dying in the yolk sack with the bright sun just a membrane away.
Part of me thinks I am being too judgmental, in assuming that they have chosen “not to wake up.” Maybe they are awake, and mayhbe they are living in an awakening that is right for them. Maybe they are exactly what they are, exactly as they should be, just different from the one I am in.
Honestly, I don’t really know. I think it is better to not make assumptions. True acceptance is kind and nurturing like that. I can’t fully understand their world, but I can give them the gift of acceptance.
I will go there today. I will accept them as they are. Different is okay. They are free agents. They have decided this way of relating is what they want. It hurts my heart, the distance, but it is better to not make it personal, to not assume anything other than that they are unable or unwilling to have that kind of relationship at this time. It really isn’t personal.
If we lived closer to each other, I would probably need to respond to them in a different way. A mask on a continual basis is not something I am willing to give. A mask, a few times a year, is something I can do. Perhaps one day, I will eschew even this rare covering. Perhaps even one day soon. I was trained to live under a whole set of masks. Learning to uncover has been a slow process for me. The pain of living under a lie has helped propel my coming out. I come out one small step at a time.
My Father’s Day gift today is that I will make polite meaningless conversation. I will avoid showing my real face. I will bring the store-bought cards, the presents, but most of all, I will bring the little mask that hides who I am. It’s what they seem to want the most. Maybe some day I will unmask altogether. I think that is the greater love. I think it is the only way to give everyone the opportunity to love the real people underneath the fake smiles and the assigned familial roles.
But not today.