love, Ruth Nineke

a lot of personality to keep herself together

Post Published: November 22, 2022
An excerpt from #MOODS, Men, & Mommy Issues.

My grandmother was crazy when I met her.  I met her for the first time that I recall in 1991, when I was seven, when we’d gone to Canada for Christmas. My grandmother didn’t exactly radiate bat-shit when I met her. 

She spoke very fast on the telephone, and in person. She delighted me with her sing song gibberish, and boldness. There was an edge of unpredictability to her; you had to work to keep up. You adapted your speed of listening and comprehension to her speed of speech. She said whatever popped into her head, got naked and changed her clothes with anyone in the room, and she encouraged my hankering for sunflower seeds and my taste for lemon wedges sprinkled with salt and black pepper. 

I liked her a lot immediately, because she liked me. She was dynamic and vivacious and it felt nice to be liked by my grandmother whom I’d never met before. 

What I think now is that my grandmother put on a lot of personality to keep herself together, and maintain her moods and good spirits. What I think now is that my grandmother – like my mother, and like myself with increasing frequency in recent years – held in a lot of anger and resentment about her life. 

I’m fortunate, and I know that. I was born to live in a time where I have choices, options, and tools for working through my internal torment. I don’t have to suffer through a life I didn’t choose, because there’s been so much messaging – through media and pop culture – and opportunity for me to learn that I can choose to live differently. I’m not bound to anything I don’t want, and that includes my pain. 

My grandmother was not so lucky.

My grandmother was a beautiful and battered woman, an unfortunate victim of the untimely circumstance of her own existence.  She was breathtaking in her youth, and I’m not romanticizing this either. She had a perfect figure, a smooth complexion, and long, dark and wavy hair. Her smile was radiant starlight promise. 

She was a goddess.  

But the physical time and place to which she was delivered was not evolved enough to appreciate, much less exalt, her.  And as so many ambitious and beautiful women are (even today) my grandmother was abused for her beauty and intelligence, punished by the men around her for their own inability to overcome their wicked jealousy and sexuality. 

My potent misandry is fueled 80 to 90% by the cruelty my grandmother suffered, and the opportunities for education and achievement she lost on account of her gender and her father’s, brothers’, and husband’s misogyny. 

I hate men because I know precisely what they’re capable of when propped up by unchecked entitlement, and overdosed on artificial superiority. I hate men because my grandmother was denied the power to choose her own destiny and, having been robbed of a future that most likely wouldn’t have included me, she’s been permanently matted in a thin finish of repressed resentment toward her progeny.

I don’t think she hates her individual children. But I do think she hates that she had children at all.

My grandmother never wanted to be a wife, or mother. I hate men for my guilt in existing through a woman who couldn’t realize her own dreams because she was living a nightmare constructed by the men around her. All my grandmother wanted to do was go to school and be a nurse. But she was relentlessly courted by – and forced to marry – my grandfather. At least this is what she told me.

My grandmother had four children for her husband, and I believe she may have miscarried two. There was also mention that she suffered a nervous breakdown once. I feel like female mental breakdowns were commonplace in the 50s and 60s. I wonder why. 

I think a lot of times when she speaks, or seems to be rambling or ranting, it’s easy to dismiss her as a crazy old lady. And sure, maybe that’s true. 

But what I picked up from the times I’d spent alone with her in my early adulthood was that she had been carrying a lifetime of pain, sewn up inside her like the tiny beads of a corn-hole pouch.

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