A few months ago my therapist asked me to start thinking about the first relationships I had with men; she wasn’t talking about romantic relationships either. I’ve never wanted to address those relationships because I didn’t want to give much thought to my father, brother, uncles, cousins, and grandfathers. I figured, if I explored the individual relationships I had with all these men, I would realize that they somehow hurt me. I didn’t want to know that I’m an emotional fuck up because of them.
Then it clicked. How dare I give them power over me and how dare I not take responsibility for my own emotional fuck ups. With that being said, I’ve decided to explore those relationships starting with my maternal grandfather. I’m starting with him because he is the one male in the family that I am closest with, the one I constantly want to make proud, and the one I have been rebelling against.
My grandfather took me in multiple times when my parents could not care for me. When I was born, my mother went straight to work so I went to grandparents, forcing me to have another set of parents, because having one set isn’t enough! And while it is true that I may have gotten twice as much love I also got twice as much discipline; conflicting discipline.
I don’t remember much about my dad growing up but I remember my granddad. I remember him taking me to school here in the United States and definitely taking me to school and picking me up every single day when I lived in Mexico. Frankly, I was never alone when he was around. He talked a lot during our walks about how he didn’t have a son to be proud of or a grandson for that matter! I remember those talks because they inadvertently shaped me.
I pushed hard to show him that he may not have a grandson to be proud of but what about me, a granddaughter? For him, my place was in the kitchen, or on the sewing machine or at the local drug store buying make up. My place was next to my grandmother who has always been quiet, subservient to him. Why couldn’t I just stand there with my arms crossed while he drank the water he had requested I go and get him? Chilled but not ice-cold. I’ve always questioned myself as to why he ended up with me, someone who still doesn’t understand the laws of high heels, who can’t make tamales, and who would rather spend her money on books versus the latest M.A.C cosmetic line.
I rebelled again his ideals of the perfect granddaughter. I started by reading books. In his world, a woman should not read. But I did and I have continued to read. It annoyed him that I would read. Shouldn’t I be cleaning something since I’m being idle? How about I learn how to mend socks or add his initial “L” to his handkerchiefs? There must be something for me to do that doesn’t require me to just lay there and read. He often hid my books from me but to his dismay I had back ups! Maybe this is the reason I’ve never read a single book from start to finish, I read up to six books and put them in random places.
In school, I would win awards and show him what I was doing. But what was my brother doing? I became salutatorian of my high school class and thanked him for his support and encouragement (total lie) and then went off to college. But was my cousin going off to college? Did I have to live at the university? Why couldn’t I live at home? Only whores leave their homes. When I lost my virginity, I thought of the disappointment that I had just cause him. I invited him to my college graduation and he reluctantly went. He had better things to do. I decided to travel the world because he never got the chance to. I got my Masters degree and proudly showed him and then he dropped the biggest bombshell.
He finally told me that he was proud of my accomplishments. After 16 years of working hard, he told me!!! I felt myself swell up with pride only to be deflated in mere nanoseconds. His pride for me was conditional. He would have been prouder if I had accomplished everything I had done while being a male.
I realized in that moment I simply couldn’t compete without the proper genitalia. It took me 16 years to realize this. I will never be that person he can be proud of. EVER. At least not in the ways I wanted to make him proud. So what the hell am I supposed to do now? To make him proud, I would have to take a big plunge in uncharted and undesired territories: marriage and motherhood.
He can go fuck himself.