Yesterday my dad told me that I have man arms. But let’s first please talk about something lovely. And then we’ll get to the shitty part of this post. Here is the lovely: My grandmother turns 86 on Friday. Yesterday she had a four-hour surgery all in the name of extending her life so that she can celebrate 50 years of marriage with her wonderful husband, my wonderful grandfather, later this year. She put her body through a traumatic experience yesterday all in the name of love because if she had not, she stood at high risk of her condition taking her life. She put herself through risky surgery, all in the name of love. How AMAZING.
My grandmother is very special to me. Always an inspiration. Born during The Great Depression, she lived a hard life in the early years, marrying an asshole, losing her children, and living the life of a working girl in the 1960s and 1970s. She was an executive assistant to some big wig in Pittsburgh, and despite hustling and earning her way, she rocked the fashion scene better than any other. Teeny tiny and always best dressed.
And then she met my wonderful grandfather, and they have lived a life of love and peace and kindness. Never an argument. Never drama. Never an unhappy moment. Theirs is the relationship after which I pine.
Before Gwendolyn, my grandmother and I would spend oodles and noodles of time together. After my little bundle of joy arrived, it got complicated because I became a dedicated mother, and my grandmother is not a fan of taking the dog everywhere that you go, he he. But we never lost our special relationship. Having her in the hospital has made me weep because I don’t want to lose her. I will be spending more time with my grandmother, as she recovers, and after she recovers. Here is my 24th birthday, out late at night, partying it up with my grandmother! This was 12 years ago.
Yesterday I rose at 2am, practiced yoga for one hour, walked Gwendolyn, then arrived at the hospital at 5:30am to sit with my grandfather whilst my grandmother underwent her procedure. I could only stay until 9am, but being there made me feel so very lucky; and when my grandfather told the nurse that I am his granddaughter, I felt so very proud. I told him that I felt proud when he made the declaration, and he replied, in his rational way, “Well, it’s what you are!”
My dad was also in attendance. He stayed with my grandfather from about 7am until the procedure ended. This meant that I would be sitting with my father for two hours, something that I haven’t done without the existence of alcohol in a long time. He and I are different, but differences do not excuse the things that he said about my body, or the body of my new yoga inspiration Lotta.
I am so excited to have found Lotta because in this stage of my yoga practice, it’s hard to find someone that moves me so greatly in the sense of training and philosophy. Sure there exist world renowned yoga teachers. Many are great because they’ve built a great brand but have a weak practice (Kathryn Budig). Many are great because they have a divine practice but no brand (Tim Miller). And some are great because they have both, a brand and practice (Kino). But none of them move me. Lotta is the first human, in a long time, that inspires my passionate yoga girl brain and heart.
I showed Lotta’s press handstand into Vrschikasana II to my dad.
“She has man arms.”
“What does that mean?” I replied
“They look like man arms. You have man arms, too.” he stated.
“And she doesn’t eat anything. There’s nothing to her.” he continued.
Okay hold the fucking phones. 1. Why are you critiquing her body? 2. How do you know what she is or is not eating? 3. Why does it matter? 4. And what about the incredible strength that she presents in this video?!?!?! 5. Do you know her story? Do you know that she is a grandmother? What right do you have to say such horrible things about her? WHAT THE FUCK.
Then my dad asked to see another picture and commented on her face. I’m not even going to recount his statement because it is disgusting.
Lotta is a specimen of beauty and grace and strength and fucking complete dazzling inspiration! Where on Earth does my dad get the right to say such horrid things about a human who works so hard and passionately at her practice and shares it with the world?
It makes me wonder, am I the way that I am, about myself, about my rigid requirements of looking perfect because he was a constant stream of criticism during my upbringing? Should I be grateful for that constant stream of criticism? Or should I simply overlook it and move onward, not giving a fuck if he continues existing in his vessel of hatred and being mean to other people? He is the kindest person – he’d help an old lady to cross the street – but why on Earth must he be so vigilant about discussing a woman’s features in a negative sense?
Last night I posted the following picture to Facebook, and he commented, “If the fine table breaks, or somehow loose balance thus end up falling, make sure to land on your boney ass. Your mom & I spend big dollars on the teeth & the brain.” (note the grammar errors – was he drinking?).
I replied, “you did on the teeth. thank you for that. my brain is my doing.”
Then he went into war mode and asked if I wanted to see itemized receipts for “educational endeavors” which clearly means that he is taking credit for my accomplishments in life because he paid for a few portions of semesters of college (I think through my second year, minus my student loans and scholarships). So I shall state for the record, it is a parent’s responsibility to pay for their child’s college, if that child wants to go to college. And I shall state for the record that my brain and my accomplishments have nothing to do with my college “education” or lack thereof. Everything that I hold prideful is because I am autodidactic and self-learned and driven as fuck and have done it my way. But he can take credit for whatever he pleases. I’ll give him my teeth.
But why did he need to state “Boney ass?”
As opposed to Fat ass? If I had posted an image of me on the table, weighing 181 pounds (as I have weighed many times in my life), would it have been fat ass? Or would it not have earned a comment? Can you tell that I’m completely disgusted by the verbal transactions with my dad? If he can’t love and be gentle with his tribe, then he is turning into the asshole that was his father. Before his father died, he posted on Facebook that my father wasn’t his biological son. That’s pretty shitty. And I see my dad turning into that. Maybe I’m following in their footsteps by writing this post? But this is all so very relevant to my life’s work that I must write about it here.
I’m not perfect, in my dad’s eyes, but I am perfect in my own. So maybe he thinks that he’s perfect, in his eyes. But I challenge him to look into his heart and ask if being mean to other people is the way in which he wants to live. Or would he rather match his other good works, such as helping an old lady to cross the street, with kind thoughts about a woman’s body and work versus trying to annihilate another’s self esteem. It would be nice to earn his respect and genuine kindness in my lifetime, but if I don’t, that’s fucking fine.
And lastly, if I have Man Arms, what kind of arms does he have? Because they look nothing like mine.