I ran across this article yesterday. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I have been asked that question an inordinate amount of times in my life.
Like most people of mixed race and background, that is not a simple question to answer. I cannot simply say something like German or Mexican or South African. The answer is far more complex. Even for people of a pure ethnicity I cannot image this question is simply answered either. There is much more to what you are than the area of the world that your ancestors came from. Your identity is made up of a wide variety of experiences, preferences, recognized orientations (gender or lack of a commonly recognized one, sexual preference, religious affiliation or lack thereof, etc.), familial groupings, and so on. Although when people ask this question, it seems that they are looking for specific answers: race, gender, and/or nationality.
I could answer this question in so many ways. Human. Female. Bisexual. Atheist. American (not a particularly proud one). American Indian, French, German, and many unknowns (my mother was adopted, we suspect based on our physical traits and other facts that we may be Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and/or African). But I want to ask in return, why does it matter? If I answer with anything but human I may be judged. Apparently I already am anyway, so why would I tell you anything else besides human?
I have no issue discussing “what” I am with people I know. My story is interesting and varied and has a lot of mystery. But why does a complete stranger think they have a right to that information?
What do you think of this question? How do you answer it?
When I say I came from messed up origins, I mean that. Before I go any further I will say this; I know I could be far worse off and have many more problems than I do. I am in no way saying I have it worse than anyone else. We all have our own problems and they affect each of us differently. You will see as I tell this story just how far from normal my early years were though. I thank my mom and my mom alone for the way I turned out.
I was born on a Wednesday afternoon a few months before the seventies came to a close. My mother was 19 at the time, my father 21. Their union was not a happy one nor one born out of love. My mother had been given little choice by her adoptive mother, go with your boyfriend or become homeless because I’m kicking you out. Not much of a choice at that age. So they got married and I was the result. I blame neither of them for this, it simply was.
Although my mother was miserable she remained with my father for my sake. By the time I turned four she simply could not take it anymore and announced her intention to divorce my dad. I know she had a lover and that lover’s ex-wife (or ex-girlfriend) happened to be my babysitter in our tiny rural town. I remember very little of this time except for one event that stands out in my mind. My mother and I were in the trailer we lived in, my father was outside mowing the lawn. I was standing in front of the glass screened door watching him when he hit a rock with the mower. The rock hit this door and shattered the glass. It was loud and very scary. I wasn’t harmed, but this is what I remember from this time.
From this point what I’m writing will be a blend of memory and fact. I was too little to remember all this on my own, and I’ve done a damn good job of erasing a lot of it, but I’ll try to distinguish what is memory from what I learned.
When my father’s mother (Mim in these entries After Suicide – Part 1 of 2 and After Suicide – Part 2 of 2) found out that my mom was divorcing my dad, she decided that my mother should be punished. First she decided that because my mother carried around a spare pair of underwear for me that that meant she was molesting me and began spreading this around our small Georgia town. I don’t remember anyone talking to me about my mom supposedly molesting me. When that accusation wouldn’t stick and she found out who my mother’s lover was and thereby who my babysitter was, she decided the babysitter was molesting me. This accusation held more water for people, and so she spread that around instead.Continue reading →
* Not his real name. (In a continuing effort to remain anonymous and protect our privacy, my boyfriend’s name has been changed. I will mark any detailsthat I change in a similar fashion.)
I mentioned in my first entry that one of the things that has brought me here to wordpress is the desire to blog about my boyfriend Graham. There is an almost ten year difference in our ages and I’m the older one. Honestly this doesn’t make much of a difference to either of us. After two years I’m pretty sure that if it were going to cause us major problems there would have been an indication. It works for us quite well. He’s mature for his age, which makes it much easier for him to encourage me to not work and accept full financial responsibility for us. Initially I had intended to seek work again after I was laid off, even if only part time work, but he told me I didn’t need to and he didn’t particularly want me to. It was easy to see just how much healthier and happier I was without a job. I still may eventually pursue something part time, but right now I am in the process of booking my first paid wedding photography gig (fingers crossed).Continue reading →
I’ve been very, very busy lately. Although I don’t have a job and I am “just a homemaker,” my mother recently had eye surgery that prevented her from driving; therefore, I’ve been in and out a great deal. Gradually Mom has been able to do a little more, but I’ve spent some of my nights at home and some at her house, which are 30 miles apart. While she was off work for the surgery (her first ever, which was scary for us both) she was unable to drive at all for the first couple of weeks and after that the idea was to increase her driving slowly and only as she was comfortable. Continue reading →