I get the visual harshness from my German grandmother. The jaw that’s slightly too sharp, the eyes that are a little too piercing when they look at you straight on.*
I get the quiet appraisal from my Scottish grandfather. The little man who knew how to blend into the background, who passed his wallflower tendencies onto his son, also passed on the need to size people up before getting to know them.
I get the stoicism from my (other) Scottish grandfather, who was loving and kind until you messed with him. Then he battened down the hatches.
I get the laser-sharp daggers from my mother. She wore the pants in the family for sure. She was never wrong and let you know it. She’s the reason I’m a strong woman and she’s the source of a lot of my insecurities. My last year of high school was certainly not a fun one.
I get the second-guessing from my father, who was never really happy in a situation probably not entirely of his making, but didn’t know how to get out of it.
I get the increasing tendency towards pessimism from what life has thrown at me so far. Big D wonders why I can’t see the positive things in our life sometimes; I wonder why I keep getting dumped on. Our life looks pretty good from the outside (if you don’t look too closely at the backyard, anyway), but some days it’s a struggle.
I was born to have a ‘bitch face,’ apparently. It’s why only crazy homeless men with no teeth chat me up while walking down the street. It’s why my boss tells me to lighten up as I pass by when I wasn’t thinking about anything particularly heavy. It’s the line of my almost-nonexistent eyebrows, the set of my jaw, and the bold glasses I use as a mask. My default face is the face that says ‘don’t mess with me, motherfucker.’ People ask me how or why I do it – damned if I know. I just *do*.
I didn’t know this explicitly until I was an adult, but I think I’ve compensated for the bitch face by being too nice, sometimes. For giving the people I let in the benefit of the doubt, when maybe I shouldn’t. For looking past the bad things and focusing on the good things. More often than not, that’s the moral equivalent of shooting myself in the foot. Especially when my kids are involved, that’s a sure recipe for disaster.
I hate being a bitch. But I’m incredibly good at it. And to save my own skin, and those of my family, I need to do it more often. So if you see the bitch face, don’t take it personally. It’s self-preservation.
* (I get my Aryan breeder hips from her too, but that’s an entirely different story.)