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#457976 - 01/04/14 02:26 PM How to recover from hurtful mothering?
gaatt Offline


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 88
It seems to me that a key part of my healing process is to find ways to nurture myself psychologically, emotionally, and physically. This isn't something that comes automatically to men, yet I think it crucial for men who were hurt and/or neglected by their mothers in their youth.

Do you guys work on this? How do you go about it?
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#458023 - 01/05/14 01:09 AM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 321
Loc: NY
Gaat:

Yes, self-care seems unnatural. It's a kind of shoring up a sense of me that never got nurtured by someone else.

The ways I've done this have probably changed over the years. At the moment, I'm acutely aware that when I am with my mother, there is a kind of begging in her that I pay attention to her. It's like a wall inside collapses and I feel the pull to give in, to pay little attention to myself.

In small ways, I try to compensate by listening and watching closely. I try to take in me and her at the same time. It can feel grotesque, awkward, monstrous, disturbing, all of the above. But I try to do it because I want to feel free by being present.

In my own life, I reflect on the moments that are truly connected to the person I know as me. I allow myself to feel into them as often as possible and do things that lead me there. It's a continual resetting of the goal to be authentic.

Thanks for the question. Curious to hear more of your own journey and process.

FB
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#458105 - 01/06/14 02:30 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 88
Hi Focussed,

I totally understand the begging part of being in the presence of my mother. It doesn't stop with her. I end up doing it with women who are already in couples (and/or uninterested in a healing approach to relating) and who seem warm (yet are often deeply frustrated underneath that facade). It's like I'm still looking in all the wrong places for the kind of affection that a newborn needs.

My history with my mother is a subtle one. There was no physical violence (other than one spanking) in my past with her at all (or my father for that matter). There was lots of subtle/covert aggression however and a definite sexualization of our connection. The cultural connections are very powerful (military & the effect of 60's feminism on women).

There was a great deal of emotional trauma in her life when I was very young and my father was completely incapable of taking up the slack. So my need for the kind of physical nurturing that newborns need never really got met. My longing for it can be intense and very disruptive to socializing. The longing and the frustration of it not being met are often paired. I think that my role as a youth was to take on my mother's emotional needs and accommodate her sexualization of our connection just so that the basics could get met.

These days I look for the psychological and emotional aspects of nurturing myself by seeking men who understand what the effects of sexual abuse are like and are interested in healing. This site is a good place for that. The physical aspects of nurturing are more demanding. I do alot of work healing myself of Crohn's disease (Gabor Mate seems to think it is related to taking on the emotional trauma of mother in youth (see "When the Body Says No")). I also hire a massage therapist who is quite good. Very recently (after basically giving up on this community after many years of struggling) a couple of guys offered to support me with Quantum Touch. This is a big change.

I long for cuddles, healing touch, a sleeping partner and yet can't tolerate the sexual charge that is normally stirred up with these activities. I become too angry, confused, and my digestion goes way off. So this new development is a move in the right direction. I hope it continues to deepen. I'm amazed at how much frustration I had to tolerate before it came about and how solid I had to be in my commitment to satisfy my own needs before it happened. In my mind, I was preparing to leave town.

Sincerely,

GAATT


Edited by gaatt (01/06/14 02:33 PM)
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#458137 - 01/06/14 11:41 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 321
Loc: NY
Gaatt:

Thanks so much for relating some of your experiences.

First of all, I identify with the physical symptoms. When I was nineteen, I developed a lactose intolerance. While this is somewhere near the normal spectrum, eventually I had the makings of irritable bowel syndrome as well. What followed was much work of cleansing and some yogic practice, and eventually leaving behind the stress of a life spent with people who kept me busy doing the wrong things. Somehow I came to a good place of being able to more directly follow the emotional effects of anxiety on my digestive system. It can get touch and go from time to time, but with the kind of effort you mention, real results can be seen.

Yes, the sexual charge still leaves me incapacitated as well, especially compared to how I used to live. Small wonder since my life used to be a lot crazier and involved tons more denial. Now there's something kind of wonderful when I recognize that that deepening of hope happens on a physical level.

Other things you mention resonate with me, such as the cultural connections. I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but I will say that my mother's slowly growing frustration with men has at times been supported by a feminist perspective. I consider myself a feminist man, but also understand that feminism can easily miss the boat when it comes to what men need, not just what they have destroyed.

For instance, attachment theory is a key part of understanding the needs of a child. But during the time of the women's rights movement, the growing consensus that early attachments to the mother had a great effect on children may not have reconciled well with feminism. The reason for this is that if a child's needs were taken that seriously, then whatever was lacking in them would be first blamed on the mother. That would be seen as another blow to the growing feminist consciousness.

As a father of young children myself, I now see how easy it is to get trapped in the blaming of either parent. All the more reason then, to work on healing the abuses of the past.

Nonetheless, this renewed and wider perspective does not make things easier. My own mother was abused by her brother when she was young. It was somewhat innocent according to her, but when I think of how much she misunderstood me and perhaps men in general, it begins to become clear to me that she's not owning up to everything. I wonder what it would be like (and would have been like) if she looked at what happened, reflecting on what might be painful and not only the liberation of seeing a man in a compromising position that puts her in control of the situation.

What happens of course as I consider these things, is that I get caught up in the experience of her trauma. Perhaps this is what you refer to as the accommodating her connection with me. The difficult legacy then becomes my burden and it becomes necessary to see myself as separate myself from it and her, thereby achieving some of the kind of growth that couldn't happen before.

Getting back to your first statement about how important it is to nurture ourselves, I often find myself treading the thin line between my somewhat passive "feminine" side and a true need and desire to take care of myself. I know for certain that one defense I developed in the face of my mother's sexual aggression was to overly develop a capacity for feminine energy, i.e. yin. This has left me lacking in the yang department. So more recently, I've been taking more seriously the need to enjoy being a man in ways that I like to be.

For a lot of men this may seem a normal, natural and easy-going part of life. But for us whose normal male development has been haunted and thwarted, being male and relaxed about it is about as easy as hang-gliding.

When I do feel centered and in touch with an authentic maleness, I try to breathe and accept that it may be something I never really nurtured at all. I try to listen to it and say hello in the best way possible.

Thanks again for your honest thoughts. I hope your path continues in good directions.

FB





Edited by focusedbody (01/07/14 06:15 AM)
Edit Reason: clarifying my thinking
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#458194 - 01/07/14 05:32 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 88
Hi Focussed,

Your thoughts on feminism intrigue me. I read in a summary of "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan that women who embraced the feminist rebellion of the '60s had a less hurtful effect on their kids than women (like my mother) who resisted it. I too have had strong feminist tendencies over the years. More recently I've recognized the need for balance and coming to peace with my own maleness.

I too took on my mother's anger at men and generally have a strong feminine side and a weaker masculine. I think I have repressed my energy a great deal which has been harmful in many ways. Recently, I've been exploring a meditation technique that involves paying attention to the root of my penis (1st chakra). This seems to help me stay in the positive root of my male energy and get me out of my many thought patterns that would condemn it. That was pretty easy to do in my youth. As a child of a military officer who was part of the plan to destroy all life on earth, it wasn't difficult to see the problems with unbalanced maleness. Coming into my own (and hopefully much healthier) version of maleness is a big part of my healing process too. It often involves taking the initiative (maleness) to find ways to love myself rather than trying to seduce (feminine approach and more typically me. I smile alot and tend to take on the emotional turmoil of women in distress) the people around me into providing it.

I really celebrate your willingness to heal yourself as you parent your children. This is so important. I see much of my woundedness as being the result of parents who could not see their own woundedness at all, let alone make any effort to heal themselves. Congratulations on taking this path. I hope your children recognize your efforts (if not now, then someday) and celebrate you for it.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
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Love is the answer

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#458270 - 01/08/14 10:38 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: focusedbody]
Jacob S Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 592
Originally Posted By: focusedbody
Gaat:

Yes, self-care seems unnatural. It's a kind of shoring up a sense of me that never got nurtured by someone else.
FB


this is so much what I deal with.
_________________________
Like a spent gladiator
crawling in the colosseum dust
who can count on his remaining limbs
all the people he can trust.
Like the one who stands behind him
cheering him on
Estatic when he stands defiant,
wild with abandon when he's gone

just stay alive.
do whatever you need to.
you are worth it.

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#458346 - 01/09/14 02:53 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 88
Hi Jacob,

I had an interesting development recently while dealing with my frustration at the lack of interest in clean physically nurturing practices in this community. A couple of guys from a men's group I helped form 4 years ago came over and offered me a healing touch session (Quantum Touch). This was a major breakthrough for me because it gets me clear of being exposed to the sexualization (and accompanying lack of communication) of most mixed groups and yet still offered the physical nurturing the young part of me still craves.

One thing I was doing prior to that was imagining that I was physically caring for my "inner child". It seemed to help.

Have you found ways to support your own self-care?

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
Love is the answer

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#458537 - 01/12/14 11:37 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 321
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: gaatt
Coming into my own (and hopefully much healthier) version of maleness is a big part of my healing process too. It often involves taking the initiative (maleness) to find ways to love myself rather than trying to seduce (feminine approach and more typically me. I smile alot and tend to take on the emotional turmoil of women in distress) the people around me into providing it.


Gaatt:

Many thanks for mentioning this difficult aspect of identity. I too have been caught in this oddly experienced place of distance from myself and other men, while experiencing this strong connection to women in distress. What at first I thought was a healthy appreciation for women and sense of empathy has over the years managed to become more distorted at times. When it does I experience a kind of frightening and displaced passion that is both caustic and disturbing.

In this kind of dissociative state, I feel immense sadness as well as some confusion. it is also possible for me to float into a kind of empathic fugue with particular women and then I have to watch and listen to myself to see if what I am doing and saying feels strongly connected to who I say and believe I am. To stay in this place can be exhausting, but it does help me find more consistency little by little. I appreciate this kind of discussion, as it helps me allay the constant fear of these states, that I probably try to set aside too quickly.



Originally Posted By: gaatt
I really celebrate your willingness to heal yourself as you parent your children. This is so important. I see much of my woundedness as being the result of parents who could not see their own woundedness at all, let alone make any effort to heal themselves. Congratulations on taking this path. I hope your children recognize your efforts (if not now, then someday) and celebrate you for it.


Thanks for the positive thoughts. Yes, it is hard to see if any of what I'm doing is really going to pay off for them. In any case, I'm glad to keep the information flowing, about myself and about how a sexual identity is formed.

Peace,
FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#458539 - 01/13/14 02:21 AM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: focusedbody]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6818
Loc: USA
I want to say more about this a little later. But I want to add at this point that several things helped me recover.

I saw the movie: Mommie Dearest, which enabled me to see myself as the boy growing up in the home of a narcissistic mother. I cried all the way through it. But it was healing because in the act of crying I was grieving and understanding the emotions I had experienced as a little boy before I had the ability to see what was going on.

Puffer

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#458595 - 01/14/14 03:05 PM Re: How to recover from hurtful mothering? [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 88
Thanks Puffer,

I'll look that up. It sounds like an interesting movie.

Thanks for your thoughts too Focussed.

I've seen the immense frustration in myself when my fundamental need for the nurturing I never got doesn't happen (it usually doesn't unless I clearly focus my attention on it). I guess being with such a traumatized mother at such a difficult time for her, taught me to hide my needs in very early youth and find indirect ways to get them partially met. Learning to hide my maleness was a trick I learned very young. Perhaps this is a common pattern to survivors of female abuse.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
Love is the answer

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