I have a confession to make; I find it easier to express myself in written form than any other type of communication. This has always been a struggle of mine. Even when I was younger, it was easier to just write things down then to actually look people in the face. This type of avoidance can come in handy, you know when telling someone to fuck off that you don’t really care about… but in reality I’m pretty good at saying the mean shit out loud, to someone’s face. I can express a few emotions fairly well in person: anger, disgust, and… yep that is about it. I find it extremely difficult to say the nice things aloud, not because I do not want to, but just because it is hard. I can, however, pick out some cards that make my momma bawl, write a decent letter expressing gratitude, list ways my friends are inspiring and post random shit on my facebook wall in hopes someone can understand it. (And I don’t even like my own profile).
I learned all of this from my mother, all though she will tell you that I actually learned these skills from my grandma, which is fine by me because any woman you pull up next to and ask how she is and her reply is “wicked” is pretty much a hero in my book. Grandma was not really wicked though, she was a feeling drowner like me, and felt she had to hide that away. She would say she learned from her mother, and so on and so forth. Therefore, for five generations this has been passed down throughout the women in my family. We call it the “mean gene”.
My mom likes to tell people that the “mean gene” skipped a generation, and that she did not inherit it as strongly as I did. I call bullshit. I have seen that woman stop a stranger in their tracks with one look. I have heard her knock someone out with just words, and quite frankly when you get her pissed off enough she can string words together as if she were Bob Fucking Dylan. No shit, that woman is a damn story-writing poet when she is pissed. Mom thinks the “mean gene” skipped her because she is fucking delusional.
More honestly, it is because when you have the “mean gene”, and you are a feelings drowner, you do not really see that you are not actually communicating love. There is so much of it welling up inside of you that you just think people can see it. Us, with the “mean gene” love so deeply, care so passionately, and empathize so profoundly that we just assume everyone can see it. This, obviously, causes problems in all sorts of relationships, this lack of vulnerability, this “mean gene”.
The “mean gene” almost makes it impossible for the women in my family to be vulnerable. We have all been known to make snide remarks, find ourselves hilarious, and to react out of anger quicker than any other emotion known to man. I cannot tell you a time when I saw my mother hug my grandma, or if I ever heard any of the women in my family tell each other they cared and loved one another in a sincere and nice way. I can tell you, however, that when you get four generations around a kitchen table, all with the “mean gene” shit gets funny, and intense, real quick. Some of my finest craughing moments were around my grandma’s table, we may not have told each other we loved one another, but we sure did know how to laugh.
The men in my family are the exact opposite of the women. My grandpa could say the most loving, gushy, awesome things at any moment, and on any occasion, you know like on a Tuesday. He did not save his love for when it felt safe, or when it was convenient, he expressed his adoration for others freely and made sure that we all knew we were loved. Many have speculated how such a “wicked” woman as my grandma could have such a strong and long marriage to a man that expressed himself so openly. I have concluded that is why it worked. She may not have been able to express herself to her children, or grandchildren the way grandpa could, but I guarantee that man KNEW his wife, and that she drowned him in feelings more than a few times in their over fifty years of marriage. He adored her, loved her strength, and loved how she always acted tough. I believe this is also, why my great-grandparents were married for sixty-four years. Each one of these women, with their “mean gene” found someone that adored them despite their genes, and in doing that I believe that these grandmothers of mine found a safe place to lay down the mean, and start drowning with feeling.
Many people argue why marriages do not work out in this “day and age” so really my opinion should not make any ripples. I believe it is as easy and as complicated as finding someone that adores you despite your character flaws, despite your genes, and despite your vulnerabilities. Relationships seem to work when each person is accepting of the other, without judgment (and a good sense of humor and respect really can go a long way). Perhaps this is why more friendships last than romantic relationships. Friends tend to accept one another “as is” and do not bother with all the trivial stuff that gets in the way of the romantic relationships. (That and people are just nicer to their friends).
I have come to accept that I will never be married for fifty-years, or sixty-four, and that I may never have children of my own (okay I am working on accepting that). I have learned to embrace my “mean gene” (it really does come in handy sometimes), and that being vulnerable is fucking scary, but probably always worth it. Logically I do not think the world would be worse if more people said they loved one another, respected one another, or you know, even liked one another. Using your actual voice to say those things is hard, but really what damage is it going to do to the well-being of the world? A little kindness, gratitude and acceptance are always a good start. And the best place to start? Yourself.
I love the fact that I have the “mean gene”, and that I come from a very long line of powerful hard-headed women. It gives me a feeling of belonging, of acceptance, and if I am being brutally honest, pride. I hope that one day I can look at my own granddaughter when she asks me how I am and say “wicked”, and I hope she inherits the “mean gene” so that she understand perfectly where I am coming from. I also hope that I will be able to tell her, aloud, to her face even, that I love her very much and adore everything about her, which is what I believe my grandma would have said if she had not always been afraid of drowning.
“To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too.”
~ Victoria Moran