(Warning. This post may contain gross words.)
I am a female. I am an artiste. Why can’t I can’t relate to Venus, beautiful goddess of women and the arts? Ruler of money, comforts and social graces? Why can I only relate to Aries, god of blood and gore? Why do I turn to him when I have problems? I started wondering about this today and then vomited out the following words. I don’t know if they will shed light on the issue or not.
Growing up I wanted to be a boy. Or at least a tomboy. Not because I liked boy things. I didn’t. But I wanted to like boy things. I felt incredibly guilty for not reading the sports page, watching sports games or learning sports statistics. My ultimate dream was to be seen by others as someone who was obsessed with sports. My ultimate ultimate dream was to be the first female professional football player.
I wanted to be a great athlete, but was held back by my dislike for sports. They were smelly, dull, tiring, abrasive, and lacking in color.
Still, the world I grew up in was 90% sports, so even if you disliked them you were playing them anyways. Swimming, t-ball, tennis, gymnastics and ballet when you’re little and later volleyball, basketball, tennis and track. In half of these sports, being tall made up for the fact that I was spaced out and apathetic.
It wasn’t enough to just play sports though. Unless you wanted to be an absolute loser in life you needed to force yourself to do sporty things in between playing sports. Time between sports could be filled with competitive ping pong games, shooting pool, practicing freethrows or going for a bike ride. If there was a time lapse between swim practice and tennis practice, you should arrange to hit balls with a friend. Failing that hit balls against a wall or practice your serve. But do not sit there munching a grilled cheese like a lazy piece of shit.
I knew some people from public schools who would sometimes play sports in a silly way, like hitting ping pong balls against the wall and giggling. This shocked me. My husband grew up in a religion where pure thoughts & sexuality were moralized. In my world, sports were moralized. Sports and exertion. If you chose to relax when you could be playing sports, exercising or doing something strenuous, then you were a bad person. A lazy piece of shit, to be exact.
Also on my shoulders was the weight of needing to save the female species from disgrace. They were a disgrace because they were bad at sports. The superiority of men at sports was a favorite dinner conversation. My dad liked to discuss how one day my younger brothers would surpass me in sports and this filled me with dread and humiliation. I had to stop this from happening. I had to prove that females can do everything a man can do. And so from the beginning, I was at war with nature.
But the possibility of being a worthless piece of shit was not the worst part. On its own, I could have dealt with being a loser. The real problem was that if I did not become a professional football player I would have to become a regular woman. I knew I didn’t want this. Based on everything I heard they were absolutely disgusting. They used only one thing to get through life and that was “sexual wiles.” Whatever they appeared to have achieved it was those wiles that had done it. I didn’t know exactly what wiles were, but I knew they sounded gross like smooshing your body against someone else’s while wearing a silk blouse bulging with boobs.
And since I had three brothers and no sisters, I was the only one who would have to grow up and use sexual wiles. It made me feel humiliated. They would just get to grow up and be normal people. Beating me at sports until eventually my wiles took over. This sucked.
Fast forward to when I’m 18 and decide to legally change my first and last name. Of course I chose a man’s name. To me, a man’s name meant I would be the person I was within, not someone who played a role to please others. Males were subjects. Females objects. A man’s value came from his accomplishments. A female’s value came from what men thought of her. Unless she could beat them in sports. But I couldn’t. By this time I was just a series of injuries and could barely walk without pain. Dreams of becoming an athlete were over. Sort of.
Now I’m 19. My first boyfriend/spiritual guru/husband and Jesus have agreed. I should be a stripper. The reasoning has something to with achieving enlightenment. I agree I should do this. Why? Because it is my greatest nightmare. You must do the thing you fear. Or as my dad liked to say “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” If you do what feels good to you, the ego wins. If you torture yourself, the ego starts to die. Then you will finally become free to fly past the Eagle in the sky and live forever. That is literally how I thought of it.
Some people see stripping as a feminine expression. Dumbasses. It is the most manly thing in the universe. No one with a feminine side goes near those places. I can only compare it to a man working up the courage to stab himself in a nut.
It is about as sexual as a man pulling down his pants to be examined by a doctor who happens to be his uncle. But I was honor bound to do it because it combined all the things I dreaded most- being on stage, dancing, acting ‘sexy’ and worst worst worst of all- not wearing clothes. I can’t really convey in words the extent to which I did not want to be without clothing. Would you like to be naked and carved up in the middle of a Thanksgiving feast? Would you like to be hog tied with your head buried in mud and your bare ass pointing towards the sky as friends walk by pointing and laughing at you? Cause that is how it felt. Disgusting but also like a horror movie. “Guts” was my name. But the disgust and the horror were why I had to do it. Only the ego has those feelings. Unless you kill the ego you will never fly past the Eagle.
This is also the time I decided to become a Professional Body Builder. This was probably a way of trying to turn my body into a suit of armor since I really didn’t want to be naked. I was not looking to become toned. I wanted to become absofreaking ginormous like those men in magazines with veins popping out of their forehead. I wanted to be a three hundred pound monster. I was convinced that if I ate enough canned chicken and spent all day at the gym, I would become just like those men. I didn’t realize this was as unlikely as becoming a professional football player. In the summer I spent all my time pumping iron and packing down protein. When I got back to school the teacher had me stand up for the class as an example of a body type that would never be able to gain muscle mass. I was confused because in my mind I already resembled those giant men.
But that one statement popped my dream. And if I couldn’t be a successful professional male body builder then I wasn’t going to be a stripper either. The two things went together.
Always people were breathing down on me, sculpting me. My psychology was built around finding ways to fend others off while also seeking them out for protection. But every new protector would become the one I needed protection from. Normal, healthy people probably steered clear of me, I was so weird. Or maybe I steered clear of them. To this day, I feel very uncomfortable around nice people. When people tell me I am the dumbest person they have ever met, I feel safe, like Briar Rabbit in his briar patch. When people gang up on me I feel at home. Nobody in my family liked me. I was surrounded by invisible cooties and you could see the disgust in their faces.
I don’t trust men who try to pretend like men and women are the same. My first husband was like this. He would wear women’s clothing and mascara. He would decorate my room with pictures of women carrying guns and knives. And naked women making weird expressions. To me they looked like men in those unnatural poses, their faces scrunched up as though (trigger warning) they were trying to take a crap. But to the males that came around they were hot and sexy women. I never knew what they were seeing.
Husband would wear my shirts and perfume. He would buy me knives whose handles were carved into skulls. He bought me swords. He gave me a stolen gun and told me to keep it in my backpack as a symbol of female empowerment. He called the cops and told them I was planning to murder someone. A man who had recently crushed my skull but whom I had no plans to murder. It is hard to explain the full extent to which murdering people was not on my mind. It really hit me from left field. The cops took me to get psychiatric evaluation. They looked at my dorm room, the walls covered in collages and posters hung there by my husband. Violence, nudity. The big black pirate flag he had hung in my window. I had thought it was funny and weird the way teenagers think it is funny to turn a sign upside down. It was better than naked women. But when you are a potential murderer these things take on a different glow. The collection of knives on my desk. It made me feel special when he bought these for me. He wanted me to be safe and powerful. At any rate, I hadn’t had much say in the way my room was decorated. Each new piece of decor was hung while I was out and then presented to me as a surprise, a gift filled with complex existential meanings which would be laboriously laid out. Usually something along the line of female empowerment or getting past the Eagle.
Aesthetically I didn’t care for his decorations but it never occurred to me to view them through the eyes of police men. Although this wasn’t the first time police had shown up in my dorm room. Once they came because there was a gigantic naked man handcuffed to the stairwell outside my door. My name was written over his naked body, presumably by my husband. He was rattling his chains and wailing my name. I don’t know why. My roommate and I were pretty scared because this was the middle of the night and we had been sleeping. But it had become normal for my husband to do weird things in the middle of the night, like pulling the fire alarm, sometimes repeatedly forcing everyone in the dorm to evacuate. It was so loud & startling & cold & then the nightmare of having to get out of bed in a panic and be around boys without real clothes or makeup on. But he said I needed to learn to go without sleep to get past the eagle.
So when a naked guy was chained to my room wailing my name it was not totally out of the ordinary. I was usually in a state of semi-horror. The cops came and I was hid from them because I didn’t want them to see me in my nightgown with no makeup. I couldn’t look at them and I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know why he was chained there and why my name was written on his body.
My husband would wear my clothes and give me his. Sheer mesh shirts from International Male that reeked of permanent b.o. He made fun of my clothes, saying I dressed like a gigantic baby. He bought me new ones. He said he needed me to be a classy elegant lady. This had something to do with existentialism and Apollo vs Dionysus. There were always very complicated explanations for things. Classy, elegant ladies wore cutaway tops. Cutaway tops were shirts which covered up one’s entire torso except for the breasts which were left bare and exposed. I said I had never seen a cutaway top and it made no sense that elegant ladies would wear these. But that is when he would start screaming. Really really loud, just like the fire alarm. I guess his pattern was to make a false or absurd statement and then start screaming until I accepted it. He especially liked to scream in public. It seemed as though the more he screamed at me in public the more our friends would come up with psychological theories as to why he was actually a good guy, just someone with problems. Which caused an ever increasing flow of kindness and generosity in his direction.
He liked to humiliate me in public. Screaming at me until I would take off clothes or dance. Taking off his clothes in a fancy restaurant. Telling me I had to say sexual things to people, including family members, or saying sexual things himself. Giving people inappropriate gifts that were supposedly from me or threatening teachers in my name. I became accustomed to living in a state of permanent humiliation. I was horrified to be associated with myself and the dark, perverted, murderous freak I was supposed to be. But this made me cling to him even tighter. He was the only one who could love me.
People say it is your fault if you are in a bad relationship because you didn’t leave. I don’t care. I don’t know what fault means anyway. There were reasons I was with him. For starters, even before him I was very confused. I remember running around outside at night screaming “Help!! I can’t see!!!” I felt there were things in my mind I couldn’t get to. I was confused as to what was real and what wasn’t. I was always looking for people who could help me make sense of things. Nothing ever made sense in my world. My parents would say things that didn’t make any sense either. They would project strange things onto me.
Even moreso I was with him due to fear. I was terrified of my parents. I still am. I preferred being escorted by cops as a potential murderer to being alone with them. And for all his faults, my husband had the virtues of being insanely brave and bold. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He would bite the head right off of a live snake knowing it was poisonous. It was insane.
I suppose my core flaw was not being an independent person. That is my core flaw to this day. Everyone is expected to be an independent person ready to handle life completely on their own at a moment’s notice. But it is hard to be independent when you can’t trust your mind to know what is real and what isn’t. The terror, the confusion & the dependence became this Bermuda triangle, each point playing off the others so there wasn’t any clear way to escape it. He was the only person willing to step into that mess.
Nothing has really changed. I am still confused, still terrified and still dependent. But I try to be a productive person to make up for my flaws. I don’t want to be a net drain on the world.