Day One

My parents arrived. My dad thinks I should find an old minister with health problems and marry him so that I can take care of him, so I can be “of use.”

I cried on the phone to the Professor after dinner.

Then I went to bed.

I was trying to explain to the Professor that one of the most insidious, but unexamined religious beliefs in my Protestant family is that happiness is evil, that life is hard and we all should be suffering in order to alleviate the suffering of others, but if that suffering alleviation ever crosses over into happiness, that’s a sign of evil.

I also think she’s right that a lot of people want to drag you into their misery so that you will both confirm for them that the misery they’ve chosen is the right thing (hence the pressure to get married from people in miserable marriages, etc.) and provide them a buffer between them and their misery.

But all that means is that there’s just this enormous gulf between me and my parents because my happiness is scary to them.

But being happy–at least more happy than sad–is the only way I’m going to survive this life.

4 thoughts on “Day One

  1. Gah! I’m glad my family isn’t close-that way they can’t stab me in the heart with their beliefs like your family does. You have made yourself a (deserved!)happy life so I guess you have to fight for it? That sucks.

  2. That whole “people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be” is relevant here.

    Back in May, on a visit to my hometown, my Mom’s cousin and her husband invited us to dinner. Out of the blue, the husband ambushed me with “You better get married and have some kids soon so there’s someone to take care of you when you get old.” Had I not been in this man’s home I’d have let him have it. Instead I used this as a teachable moment & asked him if he had any idea the statistics of women over 40 who ended up with children with severe birth defects (He did not). It never ceases to amaze me the never-ending unsolicited counsel of old white men who think they know what’s best for everyone else.

    I think if I were in the shoes you were in when your dad said that to you I’d have been hard pressed to not offer up “My mother is married to an old preacher with health problems and is ‘of use'” and that plight sure AF doesn’t look very attractive.”

  3. OMG WHAT. DAD. NO. I am speechless on your behalf. The only comparable thing I’ve ever been through was my brother trying to set me up with a completely random dude he know so I “wouldn’t be alone”. I told him where to stick it. But he wasn’t my dad and I know telling off your parents is a whole other level of difficult.

  4. Wait, I’m not done! Still mad!. So, the idea of being “of use” is endlessly pernicious and a nasty capitalistic way of looking at people. People are not things. We do not HAVE to be “useful” (if one could even measure that!) because we are people; we don’t need justifications to exist. We don’t need to prove our “worth” any more than any random living being, or mountain, or tree needs to. We just are. Which is good, because most of us have bad days, or weird unmarketable skills, or disabilities, or other issues that make any kind of “usefulness” intermittent and temporary at best. If you sat on your ass for the rest of your days and stared at a wall, you would still deserve to exist, take up room, and receive care. Hmph.

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