First off, in case anyone remembers or remotely cares, I did meet my Persian girlfriend’s mother. I feel like it went really well. (see my last post here!)
This may have to do with my mother always telling me, as a child, how charming I was, translating into a false sense of supremacy.
Regardless, my girlfriend told me her mother liked me enough. Either I am in the clear or my girlfriend has a great poker face.
Second, I would like to thank Saaghi and Farrah for posting my blurb and genuinely caring how my visit went. They have set up a wonderful blog giving voice to first generation Iranians abroad. Merci Farrah and Saaghi joon.
I can’t express my emotions properly.
I’m not a quiet individual nor am I my great-grandfather whom apparently only spoke to berate the loose morals of 50s youth: “‘Laash’ women and their harlequin print dresses.” My issue isn’t that I’m an introvert. My issue isn’t that I think speaking about feelings is a feminine trait. My issue is that I don’t know what to do when feeling: sad, upset, vulnerable, distressed, etc…
I would categorize myself as an emotional person. I don’t mean that I sob during long distance phone commercials. I mean that whether I am really excited or melancholic, the emotion overtakes me. I have moments where I’m animated from happiness and moments where I’m as un-enthused as Al Gore in a library.
My mom has accused me of taking drugs. My doctor has accused me of not taking enough drugs.
I’m not trying to make myself sound like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, nor am I painting a picture of a cross between Cary Grant and Behrouz Voussoughi, I’m only trying to be honest. People whom I build strong relationships with, friendly or romantic, understand this about me. My girlfriend, bless her heart, know this well and remains with me, although I must say she isn’t always a walk in the park either. We’re great (for the most part) together.
This little biography brings me back to the first sentence; I can’t express my emotions properly. I can sit and listen to my friend, partner or parent speak about their issues and give semi-decent advice. However, when the roles are reversed, Lassie does a better job at explaining his issues.
This ends up complicating my relationships. Building a relationship is difficult enough as it is. While we always think and speak of our partner’s best traits, it is really their worst you must accept. This is a given, of course. No person is baggage-less. Even if I think Alicia Keys and I would mingle quite well, I’m sure she has characteristics I would have to try to get over; such as not knowing how to make loobia polo. My baggage is the stress I can put on a relationship by not knowing how to say “I am sad.” I end up going quiet or getting upset. What is worse is at times I don’t even know why I’m upset. My girlfriend then gets frustrated because I’m in a bad mood and I won’t open up. I have managed to string together sentences blaming her and the 1979 Revolution simultaneously for my own issues. I’ve also been a big enough jerk to blame her for lack of caring when she asks “what’s wrong?” An oxymoronic jackass.
I’ve read in the odd female magazine, yes I’ve looked inside Cosmopolitan and the Oprah one,
….that most men do not know how to express their feelings or that we’re afraid of our emotions. I find it funny that those articles are always written by women who do not have a) any clue about being male & b) testicles.
Even though I see these complexes among all males, I see a much more consistent picture amongst Iranian men.
I put this down to us Persians still being emotionally primitive. We know how to love, just read our literature, and we definitely know how to hate,
but we still don’t know “I am sad because….”. Persian parents (warning generalization) still do not ask their kids how they are feeling. I had an exercise in grade 4 where I would go home and write how I felt everyday. I showed my dad once and he said, “Beheshoon begoo beh to che.” (Trans: Tell them mind your own business.) My built up stress isn’t much better when dealing with my baba. The difference is that my baba is also a Persian male. When one of us is upset, it will definitely seep through and eventually the other will become pissed off. What we then do is stare silently at each other, while our animal instincts kick in. Seeing who can stick out their chest more, the room becomes a sea of testosterone as we silently duel for the right to claim
“I have the bigger figurative balls.”
We have worked on it lately though. We’ve both taken initiative in trying to work on our complex relationship, even if it sometimes resembles a heart to heart between Frankenstein and Chewbacca.
I believe I’ve painted a picture of a short-tempered “vahshee” (animal). In essence, this isn’t me. I just realized a strong character flaw and thought writing about it would help me make sense of it. Although it has never gotten in the way of my professional life, silence has hindered my ability to build stronger personal relationships.