For anyone who knows me well, it will probably come as no surprise that I was quite relieved when I came up with a reason why this whole situation is (mostly) my fault. For those of you who don’t know me well and, yet, are still interested, I hope by the time you finish reading this “book”, you’ll have a general idea.
I had a bit of a “self-revelation” this evening, and ever since then, I’ve felt Calm™. 😉 You see, I’ve been fooling myself for a long time now. As a result, I’ve been (unintentionally) misleading others along the way. There are probably a number of my good friends who will read this post, shrug their shoulders, and think, “I knew that already.” Well, I didn’t. However, now that I think more about it, it makes perfect sense. To get to the point, the simplest way I know of to say it is that I am a feminist, but I also have a lot more “stereotypical Southern male” preferences and habits than most male feminists have. I’ve mentioned this several times publicly during my recovery, but I don’t think I realized just how far it went.
You see, when I think about a married male feminist, my picture is of a guy who splits the household chores pretty evenly with his wife. I think about someone who doesn’t require much in the way of “stereotypically female” comfort and reassurance. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true of me. I think one of the reasons Amy and I got along so well is that we were both raised in very traditional Southern environments by very traditional Southern parents, but we both rejected the “Southern marriage playbook”. It turns out, though, that I (without even being aware of it) soaked up a lot of those behaviors, preferences, and habits. In many ways, I was “talking the talk”, but I wasn’t “walking the walk.”
Oh, there were some things I did quite well. It’s not that I was a full “typical Southern husband”. Also, I really think the main reason I’m just now figuring all this out is that Amy soaked up a lot of that “playbook” from her family. As a result, both of us “fell back” into the habits with which we were familiar. For all I know, though, Amy was quietly resenting that for all those years.
I feel like I need to say something here. It wouldn’t be at all unusual for someone, like me, who has suffered a TBI, to experience a personality shift that includes a thing like this. However, despite what she claimed, I don’t think my basic personality has changed much at all (permanently). I truly believe that everything she believes is a personality change is either something that will continue to improve as I recover, or it’s something that I wasn’t willing to do, because I wasn’t feeling the comfort from her to which I had become accustomed.
I had to really think hard about how to write that last sentence. I have no wish to “paint” that as a deficiency on her part. Actually, that’s a big part of my “self-revelation”. I think it probably would be considered a deficiency for a wife who had “signed up” to follow the “Southern marriage playbook”. Amy didn’t, though, and I neither asked nor consciously expected her to do so. However, I think my “unconscious conditioning” had taught me to expect things that most feminist husbands wouldn’t expect from their wives. In the months I was in the hospital and rehab clinic (combined with the ill will created by the circumstances around my wreck), I think she had become no longer willing to “humor” my expectations.
I think I have developed a somewhat unusual combination of feminist basic beliefs and a few “typical Southern male” preferences and habits. Though they are few, they’re deeply enough ingrained that I really don’t know how successful I’ll be at getting rid of them. I’m also absolutely not willing to go “full Southern male” and go against most things I believe about the rights of women (and also give up polyamory). However, I’m really beginning to think that my current particular combination might alienate basically all women.