Ive been thinking about this post for a long time. Possibly since I started this blog, which coincidentally is coming up to its first anniversary! I have been considering how I write it, how I confess to my deepest subconscious fear. How do I write what I don’t want to believe myself? I now see that this blog is my healing space, and in order to help others and myself I can’t keep this piece of my fear jigsaw in the box anymore. I need to analyse it, make sense of it (if any sense is at all to be had) and start working on letting it go.
What is this fear? Men
Now this isn’t to say that when I see a man I recoil in terror. I like men, I enjoy the company of men, I am attracted to the male species (which consequently I do believe to be very different to the female species).
So what do I mean when I say I fear men? Perhaps fear isn’t the right word, perhaps the better phrase would be that men make me anxious. This stems from when I was a child and my mum was with a mentally and physically abusive husband for 8-9 years. This figure of an individual came into my life, disrupted my balance, my cosy and quiet home, my routine, and my happiness. This figure made my home miserable, lonely, sad and aggressive. This figure made me scared and was unpredictable. This figure made my childhood a fight that no child should have to endure. This figure made me feel alone, afraid and attacked. This figure so happened to be a man. Perhaps I do believe that had my dad have married an abusive woman then I would be sat here writing a different blog post based around my anxiety around women. But here we are.
Whether we feminists choose to believ it or not, most men are physically stronger than their female counterparts, taller and bigger in stature. This is intimidating when used in the wrong context. Watching a man stand over my mother and physically abuse her, or mentally abuse the whole household, portrayed to my childish mind that men were, quite frankly, monsters. Subconsciously I told myself I needed to protect myself from male figures because they would do the same to me: threaten me and hurt me. Seeing the things I saw as a young child and all the way through my teenage years shaped my inner fear of the male sex. It’s not logical, not every man is going to punch me square in the face because he’s had a bad day. But children see through innocent eyes, and eyes that are shaped by what they see, not yet clouded by judgement or opinion.
Where was my own father in all of this? My father is a good man, I never dispute that. Well actually, there have been times I have disputed it, but I always come back to the opinion that he is ultimately a good man, albeit a good man who makes some questionable decisions. My father is a business man, both in the office and at home. He was left by his father when he was 11 years old and I see this as the reasoning that as an adult, he consciously ensures that no man, woman or child undermines him. He needs to be in control and in changer 24 hours, 7 days a week. He has a terrible temper when pushed (perhaps where I get my rage from) and he has once or twice raised his hand to hit me or my sisters, or held us up against a wall to assert his authority. I don’t think my Dad is a bad man, like I do with my Mum’s ex husband, I actually sometimes feel sorry for him. I think he’s got a lot of pent up and repressed anger, which is does not know how to exercise. So, my father as a male figure was, in my childlike mind, soft and squishy yet spiky. He could be everything or nothing. He could be happy or angry. It seemed black or white to me back then. I suppose I felt an instability there without even really realising it. Again, he could instil fear within me, and I still remember some of our worse arguments like they were yesterday. I saw a man who needed to assert authority once again through aggression and loud masculinity.
On top of my own home life and experiences, hearing my friends share stories of their fathers, step-dads, brothers and boyfriends, and watching television and films, my negative thought patterns about men were only strengthened.
My younger childlike self tried to move past my anxieties regarding men, and so my 16 year old self went out into the world feeling pretty anxious about having any sort of interaction with men, be it colleagues, friends or on a relationship level. As you can imagine, I kept myself fairly clear of relationships for a while. Don’t get me wrong I was interested in men, or boys as they definitely were then, but I would feel sick and have panic attacks if they attempted to get any further than texting.
When I finally built up the confidence to get into “relationships” (yes I use the term loosely), I chose the wrong people entirely. I chose people who intimidated me, cheated on me, said evil things to me, knocked my confidence, criticised the way I look etc. Of course I wasn’t choosing these men on purpose, I was attracting the wrong people who reflected my opinions on men. As you can imagine I swore off men for a while after this, with any hopes of my fear being uprooted becoming further and further from reality.
I’m now in a loving relationship that whilst it is not perfect, is in the main a healthy and happy one. However, I have noticed that my m-anxiety (which I totally trademark as a word!!) still rears its ugly head. How does it show up now?
- In my intimate life – I have terrible insecurities about being intimate and therefore do not really engage as often as I would like to. This is because I fear the dominant role of the male as in my experience dominant male roles mean hurt, pain and sadness. It seems to be extremely hard to forget my subconscious fears.
- Insecurities – both intimately and on a day to day basis, my insecurities vary from nil, to ultimate hatred of my body and the way I look.
- Anger – my repressed anger that has been stored since childhood still affects me to this day, sometimes in new ways that I don’t expect. As a result I can say things I really don’t mean to those who I love the most.
- Trust issues – my trust with men is minimal, I always have a fear in the back of my mind, the elephant in the room, and I can’t seem to shake it.
- I can feel very intimated and panicky around certain male figures.
- Avoid certain places invade I run in to certain males who make me feel uncomfortable and fearful.
- Nightmares – I have regular nightmares about men invading my house and hurting me. This is very disruptive and emotional, as you can imagine.
I am proud of myself to acknowledging and finding the bravery to be honest about this particular anxiety. I know I need to analyse it and probably get help for it, so that it doesn’t affect my current relationship, and future interactions with any males on any level.
My WordPress followers and blogs i follow here really do make me feel blessed to be able to access the thoughts of like-minded people and gain a new understanding and se advice. If you’re reading this, I would love to hear your take on how you would tackle this particular anxiety, even if you haven’t been through it before. I’m on the way to being fixed, but I’m not at the end of the road, and I’m still willing to seek all options available to me in order for me to live an anxiety, insecurity and depression free life. So I really would appreciate your input and advice, as always it means the world to me. Together, we can support contentment in all aspects of life.