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Sneaking Across Boundaries

March 9, 2010

My constant defiance when it comes to boundaries makes me wonder if it stems from an innate rebellion against repression/suppression/oppression or learned from some traumatic experience that I have forgotten. Or perhaps if learned, it has developed gradually from the various aftermaths of having my boundaries trampled.

For years, I have wondered what it is about my mother that I find repulsive. What makes me build barriers to keep her out? I can name endless trivial things and quite a few noteworthy offenses, such as her raving misogyny, but it seems to be more than just that. On the other hand, it could just be that.

Now, now after this latest visit, I think I have put my finger on it. Sure, if anyone had said to me before, “You know your mother does not respect your space,” I would have agreed but only instinctively, not deductively as now. My mother does not respect my wishes, –never. It is like a negotiation that she has with herself. If she does not think my request/desire deserves to be respected, then that request/desire is not granted.

She is not alone. Actually, I think what I find so repulsive about it is, it is a fundamental male trait. I am not interested in getting to the root of if said trait is innate or if it is developed socially. The point is, more males than females refuse to honor a request/desire if they do not agree with the request. For instance, how tyrannies and non-tyrannie-males will not leave us alone. They do not give a fuck that we want female born space. They don’t think we need it and/or it is not what they want, so our desire is not respected.

My mother is male identified to her core. Although the example I will relay to you may seem innocent enough, it is not. There are times that the slow and endless gnawing and grinding of a lone termite can be just as reckless if not more so as a swift and sharp shark’s bite. The shark’s bite does not always snag a main valve, however, consistent and persistent gnawing eventually hollows out to the marrow and beyond.

Twenty years ago, my father gave me a three-foot wide brass plate; it was one of two that he brought back from the Middle East. It is big and heavy. The other one he gave to my sister. When I left for my travels some fifteen years ago, I asked my mother if I could store it at her house because it was too big to go with me. I remember the day very clearly. I remember where we agreed that I would keep it, in what closet. Of course when my daughter told my mother that she will be coming by to pick up her mother’s brass plate my mother started acting like the plate was not mine but my sister’s. As if my sister would have taken such time and effort to hide the plate as I did. Besides, she would have sold it for drugs already. I calmed myself and ignored all the accusations and her fake benevolence, “I don’t think it is hers but I guess I will let her have it.”

If I would have dug a 12×12 foot hole in the back acre and buried the plate in a three-foot deep trunk draped in sequined pashmina with fresh earth piled on after wards and finalized by a topcoat of feces and fourteen strategically placed sows to stir the mud up real good, the woman would still make some remark about how it does not really belong to me and that she is doing me a favor by letting me have it.

The plan was for my daughter to go to her grandmother’s at a set time and pick up the brass plate while she picked up her four year old. This way I would have my plate and my wish will be respected. That is, I would not have to see my mother. At the planned time the doorbell rung and my grandson was standing there. I asked, “Where is your mother?” He said, “I don’t know, grandma brought me home.” I called my daughter and she was at my mother’s house. The brass plate was sitting on the porch and no one was home. Next thing I know, my mother barged into my daughter’s house. She did not say a word. She just walked around the room and did not look at me or the babies. She told the four-year-old goodbye and then left. In other words, she forced me to see her when it was evident that I had no intentions on seeing her while I was there.

My first knee jerk reaction was to accuse my daughter of being part of this plan, but she was just as dumbfounded and frustrated as I was, and felt set up.

  1. March 9, 2010 9:38 pm

    And you know what I hate the most? People who say things like, “That is your mother!” WTF? Where is my so-called agency/choice? If it is my choice not to see her, then why do I have to defend that choice? Why is the default a collective that tells me I should not assert what is best for me but what someone else desires for me. Then when others help to dismantle my choice, I am to act like they did nothing wrong. Like my niece telling her mother that I was in town which in turn my sister told my mother. I am not interested in being cruel. If my niece and then my sister had kept their mouths shut, then my mother would have not known I was around and would not have felt that she needed to do something.When I confronted my niece and asked why didn’t she keep it to herself as she agreed, it was all about, “Well why wouldn’t you want to see your mother.” It does not fucking matter. The point is, I do not want to see her.

  2. March 10, 2010 5:42 am

    Ugh, I hate that shit too, Kitty. I don’t understand why people can’t see that the nuclear family is a male-conceived construct. There is no reason why people should be obligated to those who abuse or disrespect them.

    But, you know, I think a lot of it is the same masochism that makes women in general acquiesce to male dominance. Most people, particularly women, do turn the other cheek or go back for more when they are abused, especially when there is a social convention that demands it – like with family and romantic relationships. So many women have martyr complexes (either consciously, like my mother, or subconsciously, which I’m assuming is the case with your female relatives). And I think most of them appreciate having a social mandate that justifies this behavior, which is why they constantly remind those who seem ready and willing to break free of the pattern that there are, in fact, socially sanctioned excuses for tolerating the abuse. “But she’s your mother” acts as encouragement for you to get yourself some martyrdom points. Most of the women who offer these sorts of reminders also revel in detailing all of the sacrifices they’ve made for their own families/lovers.

    Anyway, I agree that your sister, niece, and mother are all out of line. It’s good that you don’t have to worry about running into them in the course of your regular daily life. God, there’s nothing like distance to ease family friction.

  3. FemmeForever permalink
    March 10, 2010 10:22 am

    Next thing I know, my mother barged into my daughter’s house. She did not say a word. She just walked around the room and did not look at me or the babies. She told the four-year-old goodbye and then left. In other words, she forced me to see her when it was evident that I had no intentions on seeing her while I was there.

    Ugh. Your mother sounds infuriatingly immature. I HATE HATE HATE HATE this personality trait. You’re right. It is a male/male mimic’s trait.

    Well why wouldn’t you want to see your mother?

    I, too, am estranged from my remaining family members, for many years now. But I regularly associate with some long-time family friends (elders) who also knew the estranged. The friends wanted to know all of a sudden why I have nothing to do with my family. You know, so they can fix the misunderstanding. This is infantilizing, pure and simple. And it happens only to women. No one would ever think of second-guessing a man’s choices. They said they were going to try to contact my family to find out the story. I am a long time grown, self-sufficient woman. I told them I couldn’t stop them from doing so but if they went through with that threat I would no longer have anything to do with them, either.

    What I should have said was this:

    That is none of your business. I know more about the situation than you ever will and I have made my considered decision a long time ago. Period. End of story.

    If people like this respected a woman’s capacity to lead her own life, intelligently, there would never be a need for this type of question. But the assumption is a woman always needs the benefit of somebody else’s judgment.

  4. RJS permalink
    March 11, 2010 3:21 am

    Kitty, you are a wonderful writer. Along with Margie, you two are the most innovative and provocative thinkers on the internet. I only wish I could be half as good as either of you. It has been a privilege to stumble upon your blog. I shall now go back into lurkerdom and never bother you with my insignificance again.

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