For My Own Peace of Mind I Decline

Perspective is a powerful thing, and when you combine perspective with observation and hindsight more often than not there is a level of clarity reached that allows you to live a fuller life. I grew up in my mother’s family, a female dominated family where women run everything and the men who stay have little to no voice. The men who marry in are reduced to the role of moneymaker. I can honestly say I am the only woman in my mother’s family that does not go through my husband’s wallet taking cash or make a mad grab for his check on payday. When it comes to the role of father the men are allowed to father in the way the women allow deem acceptable, my father learned that lesson the hard way when he was legally removed from my life. When he would not conform, his name was omitted from my birth certificate and I was legally declare illegitimate by the courts. My mother called her misguided action encouraged by her mother that of a strong black woman. As black woman who is also a mother I see it as a desperate attempt to hold on to a man who no longer wants you just the child created. In my mother’s family the women are quick to proudly proclaim men don’t leave we put them out as if every crumbled relationship is a badge of honor.
I decided in my young adult years to not be the kind of woman I saw the women around me being when I was growing up. I refused to hold my children hostage as a way to get my husband to submit to my will. They were never my children they were always our children. I refused to steal out of his wallet. If I needed or wanted he always gave. I refused to engage in years of physical fights with my man. I refused to normalize a woman hitting a man with her open hand, fist, or car as something women in a relationship just do. I refused to take the kids and spend every holiday away from my husband because he doesn’t want to engage in the foolishness. I refuse to employ the litany of negative names I heard used against the men who were too beaten down to leave. I refused to hate on women who had more than me or look down on those who couldn’t afford the things I could. I refused to see black women as my enemy. I may not get along with everyone I meet but I refuse to declare war on black women meet simply because we go through life sharing common spaces.
There is an unpleasantness that runs through the women in my mother’s family. They not only tear down their men but each other, and their children. The children in some respects get the brunt of it. It’s a never ending battle of being called uppity when they deem you too successful or trifling when your not successful enough. Women who are constantly asking you “Who do you think you are?” or “So you think you know it all?” simply because you have a point-of-view that differs greatly fro theirs or you read a book that wasn’t the bible, or your trying the explain your observation of society and social structures. These women take great pride in determining your worth by the designer name on your handbag or the size of the rings on your fingers. They note every hair that is out of place and every time they saw you and you weren’t dressed to impress. They have no shame when they ask the price of your jewelry or car. They are void of the love, wisdom, compassion, and grace that should be handed down from generation to generation.
I tried for a long time to look past the unpleasant qualities in these women. I tried to take the never close the door on family approach. I naïvely thought I could somehow keep a civil relationship. But six months ago I realized for my peace of mind I had to decline. I could not longer try to get a long because we were family. The negativity, the vindictive actions and reaction all became too much. Every year that passed didn’t bring peace it brought more destruction, and more dysfunction. Needless to say the words I wrote when I said no more were not met with understanding. They were met with hostility and rage and a demand for conformity, which I refused to give. I never demanded they change only that they accept my decision not to embrace generations of black woman’s rage. No one should every have to chose between happiness and peace and being a participating member of the family they were born into, but unfortunately I did. Peace of mind will always win out for me.

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