With the various factors I am juggling, I still feel like I have, or should have, "BAD MOM" tattooed across my forehead. I felt that at the very least, some of the school staff probably think so. Does it count that I really am trying? That yes, life has been much too chaotic and unpredictable for my kids but I'm working on it? It just doesn't change overnight. Honestly, the fact that I've been working and getting the kids to school without interruption for the past few years is the best I can do. It will keep getting better. That is the plan.
I came home feeling pretty low. After dinner, while I sat outside with a couple of different neighbors and a friend of theirs, the guys started joking about porn. Ok, whatever. But one of them began to joke about some website having, or about the idea of one having features like "Blonde, Busty and Bruised," or "Latina and Low Self-Esteem." My internal response to that is WTF? I said nothing, but came in after a moment.
On the one hand, I would hate to have every stupid thing I've said while drinking held against me. I would have no friends left, especially after college. On the other hand, ignoring comments like that, for the sake of not making waves and of being liked by people I considered friends, is just one of the ways that I have compromised myself for years. And for any woman who has ever been in a relationship that was abusive in some way, comments like that put the speaker into the camp with Them. Worse, I felt in that moment all the shame of every past abuse, like recovery is one more delusion.
a few soft words have sent many a woman to her back with her
thighs flung open & eager / a few more / will find us standin up &
speakin in our own tongue to whomever we goddamn please.
--Ntozake Shange, "wow yr just like a man"
Honestly, I don't know if the intent had been to make a joke about the people to whom internet porn is targeted, or what. I was just stunned. Also I was surprised by how low it brought me. I cried, and tried to reason out why I felt so lost. I am barely functional at work, failing to do enough for the kids and I came home wanting to regroup with friends, and that too was a failure. I tried thinking of the expression that when you come to the point where all you've got is God, you have everything you need. I'm not feeling it. I'm not saying it isn't true but so far I am not feeling it.
The worst part is that this man has, I am certain, no idea how insulted I was that he made the comment in front of me, or how much it hurt. I don't think I could successfully explain it to him either. If there can be such a gap between a woman's perception and a man's, can we (women) ever be in relationship with them (men)? I am not even thinking about romantic relationships, but simple coexistence. For the moment, it seems hopeless to me. As I process the experience, though, I hope that changes. I know I am hypersensitive right now to just about everything, but I am also resolved not to tell myself that abuse and disrespect don't matter, not anymore. I am not sure how to be true to that without becoming strident or hysterical, but I will work it out.