This is not an article about the toxicity of men's mindsets, but it is a poignant expression of where I am, how I got here and what I’ve discovered along the way.
I used to ask, where have all the men gone?
Angry and bitter from relationship after relationship that went sideways or ended up in the same place, broken, I usually said these words to hurt and wound the men around me.
That wasn’t kind.
So many of the wounds I bear are from men, inflicted from their own wound. That’s an old story. Adam, when questioned by G-D in the garden said, “Eve, the woman you gave me, gave me the apple and so I ate it.” Pass blame, don’t step up, resist responsibility - I’ve known a lot of men like that.
The young man who sexually assaulted me at 17; he was 24, my boyfriend and he had “needs” that I “should have understood”. He ran away and hid when my dad caught us. I bore the brunt of his anger and years of shame and self loathing.
The man who dated me for four years, then left me with $350,000 worth of debt, fled the country and left me to deal with the fallout of his debts, embezzlement and ruined reputation. I learned about foreclosures and financial proposals on top of the heartache with that one.
To the man I married the first time…. who, when he heard we would be having a baby simply shut down. Nothing scarier than realizing at 3 months pregnant you will be responsible for this baby, alone. I didn’t plan on being a single mom - and I wish I had had the courage to swallow my pride and leave then.
Or for the fight. I wish there was a man who could speak to my (would be) ex husband. To hold space for his pain, hold him accountable for his parental responsibilities and support him to learn to communicate with me in a way that is kind and productive; that honours our co-parenting relationship.
I was blessed to be raised by a good man, who loved my mother and still does to this day. I was cared for lovingly by a grandfather who was the strongest man I knew. We had a special bond and I’ve often said I was only hurt by guys who didn’t know my father or grandfather. The men’s honour code really is a thing.
Now, I know the question to ask is why have all the men gone?
We have a generation of men raised by women, fed from the bottle on a steady stream of feminist ideals. These are men afraid to do… anything. Afraid of the backlash of being, men? Men who don’t take the initiative or action. Men who shy away from being initiators or providers. Men who have yet to heal the anger and the shame, and so pass the buck to the women in their lives.
This made me angry and bitter for a long time. Until I took radical responsibility for my life. For not having boundaries, for not knowing how to be vulnerable to be strong, for shying away from hard things… because I was raised on a steady diet of “Disney” Prince-Charming-will-save-me bullshit. This really didn’t set me up for success in relationships or with men. I had these expectations of protection and support; of how a man should be. And I think that that set up the men for failure. I was adept at covert contracts because I was not adept at asking for what I wanted or needed.
I have given out this book byDr. Robert Glover. No More Mister Nice Guy
(that's link gets you to the book!) about 9 times since I have read it. It had such an impact on me!
I was afraid to ask for what I might want. I was afraid to be to by myself. Like so many women I desperately wanted to be loved, seen, accepted for who I was, but I didn’t know who that was. We want to be good at love but we never really take the time to learn how to be.
Great books on those topics:
The Art of Loving - Erich Fromm https://amzn.to/2OoMsRz
Why Men Marry Bitches - Sherry Argov . https://amzn.to/3kTpYUM
Dr. Ganz Ferrance - The Me Factor https://amzn.to/2O6pBKE
All that to say that the change really happened when I stopped blaming all the guys who hurt me and let the blame settle where it needed to. On me. I was wounded because I allowed my boundaries to be crossed. By holding that wound like a shield and choosing to play the victim. I needed to take responsibility for everything, so I could finally have the courage to look for the solutions and find the courage to make the changes, set new boundaries or do the healing work.
Oh, and finding the courage to call out the misogynistic behaviour as it happens. Calling up the men to man up. Finding the courage to soften to be strong in the face of the angry, disrespectful former husband. Setting and maintaining boundaries. Raising a daughter who can say no, recognizes inappropriate behaviour and who will set her own powerful boundaries.
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