For the Bitches

I had a conversation with my cousin who’s a few years younger than me earlier today. We were discussing my lifestyle and life choices when he made a comment that, at first, infuriated me so much that I almost hung up on him. But, a second later I realized that what he had expressed was meant for me to hear to gain perspective and understanding of why the world around me interacts with me the way it does, often leaving me confused.

About three months ago now, I successfully certified as a yoga teacher. And I am currently in a massage therapy program. My cousin, to the best of his limited understanding, assessed my choices as erratic. During our conversation, he was attempting to congratulate me on finally settling on something, massage therapy, and doing it for the right reasons. He said “I’m happy to see you happy with something finally cuz…I was worried about you. Seemed like you were just ‘out there’ doing whatever with no reasons and no morals.” This, I didn’t take offense to. I simply explained that my lifestyle and choices appeared that way to him because my morals were different from his and that it’s common for people like him to think that way, not understanding that his particular train of thought isn’t the only way to think. I expected this of him because he hasn’t been exposed to much in his life. However, his response to me after my statement was the kick in the teeth. He said, “ohhhh I thought you did the yoga shit for the bitches.”

Usually, it takes a lot to get me upset, but he had unknowingly triggered me. His understanding of me was so belittling, so limited, but yet so familiar. The familiarity of what he’d said is what eventually caused me to appreciate his honesty. My cousin and I grew up together and have often been under the scolding eye and opinion of our family together. He, of all people in my family, understood me the most…or so I thought. I was able to appreciate his words because, in that moment, I realized that his understanding of me mirrored everyone else’s. Apparently, everyone thinks that my life revolves around “fucking bitches.” Now, I’m no stranger to the swinger scene nor non-monogamy, and I do have a genuine fascination, appreciation, and strong attraction to the female species, but by no means is it my only motivation. For the record, my highest motivation in life is self-development. “Bitches” are like fourth or fifth on the list. I carefully explained to my cousin that he had used the same egregious reasoning that our family often uses to judge us.  He was receptive to my explanation.

While I generally do not give a single fuck about what people think about me, I do like to have a good understanding of how people perceive me so that I can guide my interactions accordingly. Given my history, openness, and affinity for direct communications, it is understandable that my cousin, along with everyone else that I interact with, have a skewed understanding of me. I do not take issue with it, nor do I seek to change it. What I will say, however, is that I firmly believe that their understanding of me exposes the limitations of their minds, which is not my problem. Ironically, I had very similar conversations with my instructor and some of my classmates at massage school. One of my female classmates let me know that sometimes I come off as “creepy”. Another female classmate, who was present at the time, agreed. My instructor used the terms “unsettlingly forward,”  when she pulled me to the side to talk to me about how I’d approached her sister soliciting her as a massage client when she visited the class. “It seemed like you were flirting”, she said. I retorted “That’s funny, I was dry and forward as to not give off the impression that I WAS flirting.”

In the end, this misunderstanding is nothing new to me. From grade school to present day, I have been mostly misunderstood as a person. So much so, that I have begun to use the number of times that I have to explain myself as the gauge of how authentic I am being in any setting. Understanding that these misunderstandings, my “unsettling forwardness”, and my assumed “creepy-ness” will be a hindrance to me, especially in the realm of massage therapy, I’d rather be myself than to try to be something that I am not. I have been someone else for the majority of my life, and now that I am me, I refuse to regress.

 

 

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