Living with Machismo
Live, Learn, Share, Inspire.
This is the philosophy that underpins my work. Unfortunately, the things that I have to share are not always orgasmic. Some of them can be very much the opposite, in fact. Having to live with machismo is one of them. If I had to be more specific, I would term it the wilful abuse of masculine power. It is something I have experienced and I feel that I have to share my observations of it.
My intention is always to make people feel better about themselves. I like to make the people around me feel understood. I like to inspire or just make someone laugh. But not everyone is the same it would seem. There are people who relish making another person’s life unnecessarily difficult. Perhaps they do it because it makes them feel better about themselves somehow. I suppose that we should pity such people.
A few years ago, I found myself living with machismo on a daily basis. Here, in Spain, exercising machismo is much like bullfighting. Although they are both prevalent, no one with a real heart and soul actually condones them. I was living with my partner, back then. It had all started off wonderfully between us. But, within a couple of months, the situation between us began to sour. Our heated arguments quickly became physical. It scares me to think of what might have happened when I look back at that time.
One day, I remember sitting on my bed after slamming the bedroom door shut. I was crying and feeling helpless after yet another pointless argument. A single thought repeated itself endlessly in my mind: ‘if I could leave now, I would.’ But I could not. I did not have the money and the company I was working for was in difficulties. It had been placed in administration and my salary was being paid late. I was trying to find a new job and that just added to my angst. It felt as though all my resources were being drained and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. My life, such as it was, seemed more and more beyond my means to control it.
Even when we were not arguing, it seemed as though my boyfriend was on a mission to make my life a misery. What an awful state of affairs, I thought. I was obliged to be reliant upon a partner, knowing they had all of the power. Up until that point, I had always prided myself on being an independent woman. When that life-choice was removed – through no fault of my own – my feminine pride was dented and my soul was rubbed raw.
During our frequent rows, we both said things to each other that we should not have. But, in between arguments, the hostility persisted. He would walk past me in the hallway at home without even making eye contact. He would bang the doors closed and play loud music when I tried to get some rest. He was consistently dismissive of my opinions when we were in public and he never missed an opportunity to talk down to me when we were with his friends.
Honestly, it broke my heart.
I busied myself with job hunting. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I was sitting at my desk and a headhunter called me. I was poached by a rival company in the same commercial sector. My new position offered more economic stability and paid a higher salary. I was able to offer a far better service to my new clients and I projected a great deal more enthusiasm than before. My renewed confidence meant that I was able to sell more and earn a far larger commission.
Nevertheless, I knew that I had to bite down on my tongue, be patient and work as hard as I could. That was precisely what I did.
There are friends to whom I owe a debt of thanks. It is nothing short of amazing what happens when you let people know that you are struggling. You find a reservoir of kindness in people whom you never even considered as your friends. After reaching out to my contacts, I found a flat. It had great views, was situated in a great área and came in at a great price to boot. The company I now worked for had no problem with lending me the money for the deposit as well as giving me as many cardboard boxes as I required for the move. Another friend owned a van and he could not have been happier than to help me move. And, when I finally did, I can assure you that I did not think to look back after I walked out through the door for the last time. I was gone for good.
I promised myself something: to avoid living with someone else ever again. My advice is to never hand over the power in a relationship. Even if you think you can trust your partner, you might see a different side of them entirely if your financial circumstances change.
If you do end up living with someone, make sure you have an ‘escape fund’ at your disposal. That is the very least that you should keep in reserve because, at the end of the day, you should not put your blind faith in anyone else.
But, what about the women who have to endure a whole lifetime of machismo? The ones who have no means of making a new life for themselves? My heart goes out to them, of course. To the practitioners of stale machismo I would say this: ‘If your only power play in a relationship is to deliberately make another human being’s life more difficult – just so that you can raise your own lowly level of self-esteem – then you must be a total loser.’