Accepting Fear

Nota Bene: This is an intensely personal post.

My first memory of being different from girls is a memory of my Third Grade teacher. She told my class that boys couldn’t concentrate well enough to be as smart as girls. I remember crying to my parents when she assigned a written punishment (I will not yell in class. I will not yell in class…) to just the boys. It wasn’t fair, I said. My mother told me to do it anyway.

I remember the first time I told my mother “No”. I was sixteen; she was telling me to bend over the couch so she could beat me with the two-by-four she held in both her hands like a baseball bat. My stepfather intervened, suggesting she could use a belt. This was the first time being whipped by a belt seemed like a kindness to me.

I remember falling in love for the first time. Of course, she had no feelings for me. I pined for her for a year before I taught myself to hate her as a way to bear the pain.

I remember the woman I shared my first kiss with. I remember going out dancing with her the next night. I remember watching her leave me to join four other men. I remember slicing neat, crimson rows along my forearm after her roommate told me what she did with them.

I remember six years of being told that I’m useless. I remember doing every chore in the house under my ex-wife’s supervision, and I remember day after day fearing the time when she came home, knowing she would find fault for something. Knowing I would have to stand in front of her with my head bowed while she told me how hard it was to live with me. I remember her locking up my laptop and demanding the password to all my email accounts.

I remember my mother telling me I should apologize to her for leaving.

I want new memories.

I want to be treated as an equal, not a momentary amusement to be cast aside or a slave to serve another’s whim.

Most of all, I want to not be afraid. But I am. Terribly.

(Deep breath.)

And that’s not women’s fault.

(Deep breath.)

The biology of childbirth isn’t their fault.

(Deep breath.)

It’s okay to be frightened.

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~ by arkhilokhus on April 22, 2008.

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