Raging against the machine aka the personal is political


Wild Womanista writes off the cuff about the quest to maintain hope while raging against the machine:

Today I woke up pissed off and feeling like hell.  After opening Pandora’s box of nasty family secrets and hauling out the skeletons over the holidays, I somehow assumed that I’d be feeling better in the new year, like releasing the steam on some kind of psychic pressure valve.  I prepared as best as possible, lining up support from friends, strategizing with my therapist and making time for deep mourning all before heading out of town for the requisite extended family visit.  I even embraced flight delays while bracing for conflict upon arrival.  As a very wise friend put it: “There’s nothing like warmed up leftovers of old family drama.”  Yes, I was on edge for most of the trip, but expecting some degree of suffering helped me to express my unease without too much guilt.  I even managed to create a few good memories.

What I wasn’t prepared for was coming back home and getting slammed all over again.  Honestly folks, this single mom thing, even in the liberating context of escaping an abusive ex and dysfunctional birth family, can really SUCK!!

It’s not just the exhaustion and isolation.  It’s not being perpetually behind in work, self-care and finances.  It’s not the increasingly nasty behavior of a dramatically needy kid.  It’s not the hideous tedium of planning my own divorce (’cause I can’t afford a lawyer) on top of the school routine, counseling needs and perpetual health crises of my offspring (multiple cases of near-barfing, two trips to the doctor, plus therapy, a stool sample, blood draw, emergency room visit, and then he’s limping for something completely unrelated?  All in one week!?!?!?!)  It’s not even the strain of keeping my own incest trauma at bay while trying to apply for a new job.

No, none of that is really why I’m ready to blow.  It’s the burden of always having to put on a show when people ask how I’m doing.

I try to stay on the happy radar, I really do.  I record my gratitudes, value my friends and remember to say thank you to the bus driver.  I smile over bubbles from the dish soap and collect lucky pennies.  Today I even scored a dollar bill and tried to read that as a sign that prosperity and good luck are coming my way.  But let’s be truthful, a “you’re #1” sticker and the $1.03 I picked off the sidewalk this week ain’t gonna solve a damn thing.

I know that no one wants to hear that my life sucks.  Seriously, why can’t I just get my act together and land a decent job so the bills are easier to manage?  No one forced me to marry such a profound asshole so why am I bitching?  What kind of mother am I to be complaining about my own child?  Isn’t parenting supposed to be about flowers and smiley face drawings, bedtime stories and cuddles, enjoying the sweet moments before it’s too late?  Truth is that right now my son is clingy, demanding and disobedient, throws a tantrum every morning when it’s time to go to school and whines when I pick him up, tells me that I’m the worst cook in the world and won’t eat the food I make, screams profanity at me and generally refuses to follow directions.  Basically I’m raising a brat who is periodically endearing, but right now random hugs are not making make up for the shit he is putting me through.

Yes, I know there are those of you who will say this, like my myriad other issues, is my fault too, that no child is inherently bad and my complaints signal a serious deficiency in parenting skills.  In other words, my own incompetence is biting me in the ass.  Maybe you are right.  But maybe, just maybe, I am a great mom being sabotaged by an abusive ex who trains my child to attack me.  Maybe I’m an awesome person set up for failure by a family history of abuse and am stuck cleaning up the garbage decades later.

Maybe my own experiences as an incest survivor and my obsession with protecting my son are a screaming sign of a sick society that sacrifices young children to the whims of predators.  Maybe those same predators aren’t just the demons that we paint them to be, but profoundly damaged people in need of help, people who also happen to be our closest relatives.  Maybe the whole stinking syndrome of child abuse in any form exposes the twisted yet logical outcome of a patriarchal system that labels minors as personal property of authority figures, whether it be priests, coaches or daddy.

Or maybe it’s bigger than that.  Maybe I am being betrayed by a political establishment that decrees that good parenting and basic human decency aren’t worth a dime, the same political system that says, unlike the public benefits programs currently on the budgetary chopping block, universal public childcare is such a low priority it’s not even on the national radar.  Maybe I am being undermined by an economic system that decrees compete for a buck or die in the streets.  Maybe I’m under assault by an ethic of hyper-competitive global domination that operates on the principle of fuck others before you get fucked over yourself.

Maybe I’m a secret superhero simply because I haven’t gone stark raving mad under these ridiculously inhumane conditions.

Maybe we are all equally to blame for this state of emergency and equally empowered to set things right.

My new year’s resolution is to quit pretending that everything’s okay.  From now on I vow to tell the absolute truth.  I will call shit what it is and admit that it stinks.  To celebrate 2012, I invite you to join me in hauling our collective skeletons out of the closet to give ’em a steam cleaning.  Because only after facing the ugliness of reality can we get down to the serious work of making the world a better place.

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