Christine Jacobs is a West Indian woman, attempting to successfully navigate life in North America. Her writing style of comfort is prose, but she has been experimenting with poetry recently. She makes every effort to prioritize time with scattered chosen family members and her loved ones whose bonds have conclusively withstood the tests of time, adversity, and distance. Her writing communities vary substantially between a local group that meets monthly, which developed out of a memoir writing workshop, and an online group, on which she serves as an admin, alongside other women of colour, to promote writing interests without reinforcing widespread systems of oppression.
When I was waitlisted for graduate school, I feared that my classmates were somehow more deserving of their acceptance, having been let in before me, some with scholarships to boot! I remember getting ready for that first day of class, less than a week after I was notified, feeling much like an imposter amongst more qualified candidates. I imagined countless examples of how much harder I would have to work to keep up with these superior student specimens. Aside from the white supremacy of academia, I had not considered that working thirty hours a week had affected my ability to get better grades or volunteer hours, alongside the physical and emotional labour exhausted living in what I had saved in my telephone contacts as the Hellhole following Mr. Man’s arrival for the sake of that younger sibling who would later abandon me. In some ways, I think the self-reflective learning components of my graduate program provided much needed therapy for me, as it allowed me to put harsh truths into perspective in a meaningful manner.
Prior to my internship, I had doubts about my ability to manage the pressure of helping certain individuals, likely as a result of growing up in a country where marginalized groups face extreme stigma! My career path was far from linear, and rather circuitous, as I came into graduate school with plans of working with children, likely because I viewed them as such a vulnerable population. Over time, I realized that there were many other groups who presented an opportunity to do meaningful work with compassion well developed from my own trials and tribulations.
When I first moved to North America, I quickly learnt that I was not considered “Indian”, although back home, I was called that automatically. Instead, the large Indian community adamantly made that point, often by addressing me in a language other than English that I could not comprehend. After each ordeal clarifying this, they would chastise me for not speaking “my mother tongue”, from which conclusions would be drawn that I was one of those, “the West Indians”, who were morally loose, i.e. a dangerous woman. To this, my friend who is a pastor’s wife often smirks as she states that the only thing loose about me is my mouth!
My grandfather raised me until his death, till which time he encouraged that I work hard in school, as he would tell anyone that would listen that his granddaughter would achieve great things, courtesy of his investment in her education. Given that he was only in his fifties when he passed away unexpectedly, there was no written will documenting these plans to fund my tuition, and my grandmother’s health issues affected her ability to make the most sound decisions, especially when up against the unadulterated evil that was her oldest daughter and caregiver, which left me with no educational funding safety net like the inheritance he intended, thanks to a conniving bitch and the mother-fucker!
After my grandmother’s death, I became the other in my family of origin, as the bitch clawed onto Mr. Man out of loneliness and desperation, as I then became seen as a dangerous woman, i.e. the daughter who did not instinctively support her inappropriate plan of moving a potential criminal who had no legal status in North America with whom she had only 3 dates into their home, two doors down from her younger sibling! Since I was never introduced to him upon his arrival, his nickname was acquired by the assumption that he owned the only pair of men’s shoes that suddenly inhabited our main floor closet. They were married weeks after that, and I was eventually evicted from the Hellhole, following an accident which left me with multiple physical injuries, while she had to be removed by Security from the Emergency department at the hospital for harassment.
I quickly learnt that the family on my father’s side who had vowed to support me should the home situation deteriorate were as cowardly following my accident as they had been throughout my life. As for the bitch’s side of the family, I believe that they felt indebted to her for taking care of my grandmother following her medical decline and subsequent death so much that they barely responded to her poor decisions, reimbursing her with silent support. Therefore, I went from being the mature, responsible, daughter to a dangerous woman that “just wanted her mother to die alone”, i.e. exiled from my own family. The bitch’s fuckery continues to affect my ability to return to my homeland as it no longer represents hearty reunions with loved ones, but guarantees an abundance of judgment and blame from toxic character assassins that share my blood, without my heartbreaking experiences to shed light on how I was hurt and abandoned.
I was a teen when I immigrated to North America, and if it were not enough to manage that culture shock, I also endeavoured to jump ahead academically by entering Grade Twelve, after an awkward interaction wherein the guidance counsellor assumed I was older by how I looked and spoke, which prompted discussion of advanced material before my transcripts and other documentation shed light on my actual age. Needless to say, I once again represented a dangerous woman based on a variety of negative assumptions from peers, while I was only hopelessly trying to navigate countless changes.
I remember attending a birthday celebration, which had entailed seeing a movie then having dinner with friends, which the bitch had allowed. Despite following every unwarranted instruction, including calling her at each juncture to confirm that everything was going according to plan, she was seething by the time we got home. Finally, I asked what was wrong, to which she responded with a question of her own, “What would our neighbours back home have thought if my young daughter came in at this late hour?”!
I tried explaining to her how different the circumstances were! I never worked back home, unlike in North America, where it affected our ability to meet up during the day, prompting plans into the evening. She had agreed in advance anyway, which left me confused as to such anger after the event! She stormed out of the vehicle, but not before informing me that she expected an apology before I went to bed! I remember debating within myself as to how I could possibly express sorrow when I did not remotely believe that my actions were wrong, which is why I eventually stated that I was sorry she cared so much about what other people thought! Somehow, I doubt that was the apology she had in mind, so on top of not being the slim, soft-spoken daughter that she had hoped for when she left me in the care of my grandparents, I also dared to be oppositional in the opinions I shared so often, thereby making me a dangerous woman!
In retrospect, that was likely when our fragile mother-daughter relationship in name only, started to break down, as I grew increasingly independent in both my views and my actions, which did not bode well for her controlling me, so she attempted to rectify that mounting power imbalance by wearing down my sense of self, and in effect, chipping away my very soul. Back then, my grandmother was still around though, so I consoled myself by accepting that my sibling and I each had someone who supported us maternally.
I was about four years old when my grandparents took on my primary caregiving roles, as they would get me ready for school, then he would drop me off, while he went fishing, then he would pick me up after the shortened kindergarten day, and we would head home to enjoy a hot lunch she prepared, as we watched Young and the Restless. While no one should have such vivid memories of soap opera plotlines from that young age, I have no doubt that my grandparents did the best they could for what they knew, yet it only served to further my lifelong education in how to develop into a dangerous woman. Maybe if my grandfather had some graduate training like I do, he would also have known better than to tell me that my father must forget to visit his daughter as a result of eating horse shit when he would go gambling at the race tracks everyday! Needless to say, these circumstances hardened me into a dangerous woman, as I knew neither of my biological parents as a mother or father figure, although my grandparents truly did their best to accommodate my needs growing up. For that, I credit them with my strong sense of self, which protects my soul from the bitch and all else. Even after my grandfather died, and she returned back home, I can recall buying her an obligatory Mother’s Day card annually, while spending much more on all the bells and whistles for my grandmother, whose card might be musical, possess the ability to illuminate, or expand, but undoubtedly would contain far more heartfelt words than her bland one, so even within my family, a dangerous woman was always in the making, long before my exile.
Over time, I would like to think that I have come to accept this role, as I have gotten more comfortable with unconventional arrangements that serve my needs, as should any dangerous woman. While I have little to do with my family of origin, I have managed to carve out a chosen one in those who have supported me, filling roles typically held by family. I may never enjoy the prospect of moving, likely from the traumatic circumstances that left me homeless following a car accident, but in retrospect, the Hellhole was a poor excuse for a home. Thankfully, my best friend’s family were kind enough to take me in, although that led to backlash, as the bitch resorted to slander by contacting my best friend’s father at his job to tell him that she and I were lesbians, and he was letting it happen under his roof! Given that they are a rather traditional family, she expected that such lies would force them to ask me to leave, but it only reinforced their understanding of how unstable she was! Apparently, she has said that her goal was to have me suffer so that when I returned to her house, I would have been appreciative and agreeable, but she must not have realized that she was dealing with a dangerous woman!
While I may never share the conventional family bonds of most, I would like to think that my grandparents continue to look over me, as I lead my life, with actions, about which, I pride myself on happily sharing a story with anyone in future. I will be forever grateful for each and every friend who supported me like family through difficult times, whether it meant offering financial assistance, or helping me move! In this way, the making of a dangerous woman continues, in forging unconventional bonds galore that serve to ground me abundantly where traditional relationships have failed me repeatedly. Interestingly, I have heard of relatives who have had a change of heart and regretted their actions towards me, but these realizations came following my success, which make me wary of potential ulterior motives. Similarly, the bitch has tried to contact me over the years, with no accountability whatsoever, but attempts to rewrite history in her favour. Just as I attempt to decolonize my mind from the white man, I will never subject myself to the unadulterated evil that she is, who dares to control me, like she once did, with immigrant propaganda brainwashing me about infinite sacrifices made for my success, thereby demanding my lifelong servitude, to fulfill a contract to which I never agreed!