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When Broken Men Try To Break Strong Women

Marandjian Photography

There have been only two instances where a man has tried to come for my strength. The keyword here being "tried". The first attempt occurred just a few days before my college graduation. My biological father, who had been in and out of my life sporadically since i was in the 4th grade, came to visit me in Baltimore one summer. Sitting at my dinner table, sipping hard liquor he asks, "so what are your plans once you graduate?". My first thought was why the hell do you care but in all seriousness I answered him honestly, "I have no idea". I took in a large swallow of Hennessy as I watched him furrow his brow over the rim of my glass. I let out a sigh and said, "Actually, I'd like to pursue performance poetry and vocal music as a career and keep a photography business on the side". My father looked at me as if I had transformed into an ogre, which, apparently, is how he saw me anyway, because the next words out of his mouth were, "Who do you think would actually pay to see you on stage?" He went on to ask me how fat was I planning on getting before my body decided to finally fail me completely. My heart sank and for a moment I started to feel the tears begin to ready themselves at the curve of my tired eyes. Prior to his arrival, I had been awake for almost 36 hours straight preparing for a late final and making sure my home was in tip top shape for this monster to make his grand entrance into my adult life.

I glanced around my apartment and took a look at all my accomplishments; my cap and gown laying across the couch, a huge portfolio of artwork framed beautifully all around us., a stovetop covered in hot food that I took pride in preparing myself, and a clean, well furnished apartment that was proof that I can adapt and maintain the perception of "home" any and everywhere I go -and then there was him. The only thing that looked out of place, my father, sitting there in judgement of a life that he barely helped to raise, trying to make sure he got the last word. But he didn't. I pushed back those tears, finished my drink and told him that "its broken men like you who keep the blood of good women on their hands." The truth in my rebuttal made him angry because my defiance meant his words had no real power. We didn't speak again until nearly 6 years later..

There are days when I miss the relationship I once had with my father. What he lacked in presence, he made up for in wisdom and knowledge by way of phone calls, yearly visits and weekly 10 page letters.. He was quick witted, charming and charismatic, always the life of the party. I could see why my mother loved him but was smart enough not to marry the man. She is a pillar of strength and my father, a beautiful broken mess of a man with a massive chip on his shoulder and a superiority complex. He hates what he doesn't understand and fears the powerful capabilities of rightfully audacious women; which sucks for him seeing as though he's been the sperm donor for three so far.

What is it about a woman's bulletproof strength that makes her a target for broken boys charading as men? As women, we often feel like we must take on the world with fewer privileges than our male counterparts, getting less than we deserve on all fronts, so we accept the challenge that is potentially finding love amidst these self-righteous mounds of flesh who, with them, carry more baggage and bullshit than we are believed to do.. I assured myself that if I can endure the harsh, hateful criticisms of my own father, I can endure all future attacks on my womanhood, As if just being one wasn't hard enough. We find ourselves internalizing the unprovoked projections of our bodies as seen through the eyes of conditioned men who know no better. Not to discount the struggles of a man, but i'm just saying, having to endure being on constant display against your will, shielding yourself from the outwardly expressed judgments of others and, having mainstream manipulations of beauty make you second guess the skin you woke up in is enough for anyone to have to withstand.

I dont remember ever asking any man what they think of me because I have had a hard enough time trying to think more highly of myself. If these perfection seeking fools knew what it was like to carry the weight of your heart they wouldn't dare question the extra weight you carry in your belly or anywhere else for that matter.. It has taken and is still taking a long time for me to completely love myself inside as well as out. Be that as it may, I almost let another broken being take me down a notch.. As I mentioned earlier there have been only two men granted the privilege of getting close enough to me to test my strengths., the first test being of my own flesh and blood, so you know I only deal with worthy opponents. It would seem as though I was following in my mothers footsteps. Being the graceful, strong willed woman who falls for the smart, charming, sharp-tongued wolf in sheeps clothing. I told myself that if he began to resemble any facet of my fathers bitter brokenness, I would abandon ship and never look back. I dont need that kind of negativity in my life. Ain't nobody got time for that.

But when you're longterm and now teetering that thin line between madly in love and madly in hate, you tend to take some red flags with a grain of salt until that salt shaker is completely empty.. But this one relationship, so worth holding onto could be ripped to shreds in a matter of a few disgusting words said to the wrong person but my skin is thicker than that. He told me out of anger one night that my frame is too wide, my curves are fading and I am quickly loosing my femininity. Claims that I dont take pride in my body and that I should work harder to try and keep him. Now they say that the things people hate about you are the very things they hate about themselves. As I sat there naked and under the fall of my lovers unkind words, I began to see him for who he really was; a scared damaged shell of a human being trapped in a self made prison of mediocrity and fleeting youth. His warped perception of me, much like my fathers, held no weight in reality. For I am a beacon of femininity and womanly grace who has earned the right to bear proudly every stretch mark and dimple on my body. My worth cannot be measured by mans pathetic ploys to waver my spirit but my God do they try.

What hurt more than the words themselves was the fact that they came from the mouth of someone who claims to love and cherish me. We didn't choose one another solely based on appearances. Lets face it, neither one of us are in any position to judge, but the audacity of this man child. sitting before me is what kills. I see him now without loves rose colored lenses. But what have I to gain from announcing my lovers shortcomings, as if he isn't already well acquainted with all of his dispositions. These traits are all part of his unique charm, These traits are indicative of the man I chose to be with not weapons with which to hurt him when I'm feeling less than perfect. I chose to love him for who he is, not chastise him for who he is not. If I could get half of that decency in return, I'd be pleased.

I didn't choose my unsupportive, verbally abusive father nor did I exactly choose the man whom holds my heart. We are all just doing the best we can with what we've got its hard enough without hurt people hurting people. But ladies, don't let the broken ones harden your heart. They will try but you can't let them succeed. Your greatest retaliation lies in continuing to be fearlessly and beautifully you in spite of it all. Nothing silences the enemy quite like unyielding confidence and knowledge of your worth.

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