The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Patriarchal Flare-ups

Most days, I don't think about the fact that I was once married to a male--a "decision" I made when I was 18 years old.  It took a few years of recovery and while I try to keep things in perspective and think of it as a part of my personal evolution, I DO have some bitterness and baggage left over from years of patriarchy (heck, try a lifetime!) and then the struggles of a single parent.  Teri was married to a male as well in her barely-adulthood, but she and I had some very different experiences so she doesn't wrestle with some of the same PTSD flare-ups that I do.

Money, power, control, yelling, threats, and inequality. For much of my twenties, there was really no place for me to go with the resistance that was welling up within me. After all, it was the 80's and 90's and weren't we evolved into a world of equality? Weren't we all civilized and couldn't women do whatever they wanted? Well, no, and without paying mindful attention to gender issues, privilege and the realities of living in a patriarchal society, patterns went unchecked. Plus, who could I go to in a heterosexual, male-dominated world?  When I graduated from high school, I honestly thought that it was just a matter of standing up and taking my equal place in the world--but that STILL isn't how it works.

In truth, I felt bullied both in my years of the first marriage and as a single parent trying to do what was "least worst" for my kids. There was never any child support or alimony or even an equitable distribution (except on paper) of responsibility or authority. I did my best with the situation and felt totally trapped about what I could say and do for the sake of my kids. I tried to find moments of peace and create some fairness or acceptance of the way things were.

My being a lesbian is NOT in response to patriarchy or those experiences--at least I don't think so. I know that there is the idea that males turn women into lesbians and I don't think that is true (and if it WERE true, why not examine the why-ness of THAT?) My previous experiences have contributed to my being very selective about the male energy I allow into my life, however. And, I don't know if I will ever fully recover or shake off the edgy bitterness that developed during that struggle. There are occasional reminders and while I have tried to create a world where I can deal with some of that on my terms--that means diligence, resistance and awareness and that can get pretty darn exhausting!

As I have always told my kids, we have to live in the real world but that doesn't have to mean we have to accept everything as it is. I feel blessed as hell to have made it to where I am and to have stumbled upon the partner I have. Alas, there are still some patriarchal flare-ups to contend with and this wedding and marriage planning process have stirred some up.

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