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#462230 - 03/08/14 02:41 PM How men participate in the dynamic.
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
TRIGGER WARNING: Some readers are finding this thread triggering. Please be careful with yourself if you choose to pursue it.


Hi y'all,

I've had some interesting insights recently that I though I'd share. My dreams were pointing to a nameless, faceless terror that seemed to dominate the background of a couple of recent dreams. One of them seemed to be coupled with the awkward feeling that teens often feel. In contemplating it, I realized that this background may be coming through memories of my father. He was often framed as the (generally absent) threat/disciplinarian by my mother. Often when we connected, he would seem to be trying to show me how much better he was at what we were doing than support me in my learning process. I get the sense that he was competing with me for the attention of his mate and my mother at the same level as my need.

This gave me some insight into his immaturity. He was still seeking childhood mother needs through his wife. It's kind of strange that he would end up competing with me over it. Makes sense that I would feel fearful of that competition. Do any of you guys see a similar dynamic with a male figure in your youth?

Sincerely,

GAATT.


Edited by gaatt (03/14/14 04:10 PM)
Edit Reason: Trigger warning
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#462283 - 03/09/14 05:45 PM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: gaatt]
Tiger1982 Offline


Registered: 01/31/14
Posts: 26
Loc: Slovakia
Hello gaatt

My case was probably different from yours, since I was raised only by my mother, who abused me at the same time and she has turned me into a surrogate husband. But as a little boy I wasn't aware of this. Mother had a few relationships then, she always pushed me aside when she had a partner (I got no attention from her whatsoever at that time), so I concluded, that I must compete with her boyfriends for her attention. That I must be a goog boy, have good grades in school, that I basically have to give up my personality and don't bother her in any way. So this competing for her attention has had a serious impact on my ability to form friendships with men.

So fast forward some 25 years - here I am... I have problems with relationships with men - I mean with friendships with men, I have no idea how such friendship should look like, so I feel very uncomfortable when I'm with my friends, I don't know if I act in a natural way and I if I don't come across as a total nut... So I was influenced by a similar dynamic as you, but I was on other side of it, it was me who was competing for attention of my mother. But It was very painful, because I always lost in these "competitions" with adult men since I wasn't able to meet her adult needs since I was only a little boy. I can see how twisted this all is as I write this... I wanted to be perfect since then and pushed myself unbelievably to be perfect in everything I was doing so I wouldn't be competely abandoned by my mother (my only caretaker at that time). What a failing strategy...

I envy boys who were raised in a loving environment...

Andy
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#462381 - 03/11/14 12:33 AM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 374
Loc: NY
Gaatt:

Yes.

I also wish I could say that it was only in my youth. One of the difficult circumstances in my life developed when my father seemed to compete with me from my teens into especially my twenties. Even in the present day, it is still there.

I've been somewhat divided on Freud's theories, but it does seem plausible that in a healthy family, this kind of dynamic is balanced out when the father and mother bond enough that the son essentially grows out of needing to compete with the father. The son eventually goes elsewhere to have needs met, i.e. starts his own family. So I suppose when the father is openly competing with the son, that means there is some imbalance, something that can potentially cause confusion for the child.

As I said, I don't think this happened with me at a young age as much as at on older age, even after my parents divorced. It therefore seems likely that it has to do with the difficulty that my father experienced in his own family.

Overall, I think a father competing with a son is unhealthy, unless it is openly spoken about, felt and discussed in a healthy and perhaps loving way. Maybe that's idealistic, but I still like to think it's possible.

As far as being fearful of that competition, I wonder about the many ways that you have experienced that.

For me, that fear has probably kept me from learning a lot of more healthy ways of interacting. It has also caused me to listen to people who on the outside appear uncompetitive and welcoming, but on the inside have the ability to manipulate me and make me hate some of my own desires to excel.

I guess what I am saying is that without an ongoing healthy sense of both competition and attachment to important people in our life, it might cause one to grow up feeling that competing for anything is a sign of weakness and sickness. This in turn could create the illusory and painfully incomplete belief that one has somehow improved upon what a father taught us.

It's difficult to find a place of peace and acceptance in this, and can seem stressful just to consider it. I think you are asking the right questions and I hope you find responses that are helpful.

FB
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Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#462525 - 03/13/14 01:51 PM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: Tiger1982]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
HI Andy,

Thanks for writing. I too ended up being the "Good" boy and have a hard time connecting with men. I'm just not interested in the things that generally interest men and yet the nurturing, loving connection that I seek in women generally isn't available through men. It sounds to me that the dynamic is similar even though you didn't have the presence of one man to compete with, you had many.

Since I had my dreams I've recognized the need for healing in my father (and in many men). Seeking an infant's need in your wife and competing with your infant son over it isn't healthy. So I included him in the dedication to a healing chant I do every morning. Soon afterwards, I got a call from a fellow I used to work with asking if I was interested in being a practice client for his practicum in Therapeutic Touch. I was amazed! This is exactly the kind of connection with men I seek and find very hard to find. The session went very well. He is remarkably gentle even though when I usually saw him at work he presented as very strong and masculine. He is clearly not gay either. I know his female partner and kids well. It's a breakthrough for me. Now I'm not so stuck with the women. Hopefully he'll want to continue and/or do trades.

Thanks for sharing your experience with me.

Sincerely,

Garth
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#462527 - 03/13/14 02:14 PM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: focusedbody]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi FB,

Thanks for writing. I think the competition left me subject to a high level of stress which has contributed to major health problems and an inability to create a satisfying connection with a woman (or men). I've been too conflicted about my own maleness and very uncomfortable with it. So I've ended up embracing strong feminine traits in myself and distancing myself from most people. Social isolation is a common thread in my life.

I think that stressful competition exists in many places in our culture. Adult men and women compete in the "Battle of the Sexes" all the time in many ways. Ways to cooperate and support each other at a sexual, political and emotional level seem almost unknown and relatively unexplored. I know they exist. I haven't found alot of people who share my interest in them. When a child is exposed to this competitive dynamic, he (or she) simply gets hurt. There is no way that a youth can effectively, safely, and playfully compete with an adult unless that adult has a great deal of maturity, sensitivity, and capacity for restraint. I certainly didn't experience that in my family of birth. To heal myself and create the kind of loving atmosphere I seek around me is my work these days.

Sorry if considering this aspect of childhood abuse is stressful to you. Perhaps I should have put a Trigger warning note in the subject line. I can't seem to figure out how to do this now. Sigh!

For me, its a source of relief. I've worked hard on understanding the part my mother played. I've come to a place of peace with her. She has her faults. Her intentions have always been great and she has some fine qualities too. I've been seeing the strong cultural roots that set the stage for the abuse she perpetrated on me. As I work to heal my own attitude towards my own maleness (and continue to work on healing my body), it seems I need to better understand my father's role, let go of my anger towards him and most men, and get in touch with some compassion for them in me. It's been easy for me to demonize men. It's much harder for me to see the way that they too are struggling with unmet childhood needs just like I am.

Thanks for writing. It's great to hear from you.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (03/13/14 02:18 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#462583 - 03/14/14 02:35 AM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 374
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: gaatt
It's much harder for me to see the way that they too are struggling with unmet childhood needs just like I am.


This is not only a really good point, but also a good starting point.

Originally Posted By: gaatt
It's been easy for me to demonize men.


As you may have already surmised, what has made it easier for me has been the internalizing of the voices of women around me. Too quickly and without much warning, I can feel the need to express something based on this perspective. I have struggled in so many ways to understand that I am a man, without secretly or not so secretly hating myself.

When I do offer support to a woman I try to listen as carefully as I can and to be present with something authentic that can connect to whom I'm speaking to. Opening up this area can seem horrifying at first. It brings to mind a lot of stressful moments in my upbringing that I usually avoid.

(And that's not your fault!).

It's good to be on this path. It feels full of integrity. Thanks for your company also.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#462590 - 03/14/14 06:36 AM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: gaatt]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 827
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Gaatt and Everyone,

This topic is so strongly triggering for me, so you know how important the topic is for me. I demonize aggressive men horribly, when the truth is my task is to learn how to take healthy care of myself.

I am only now coming to understand the lengths of deceit by my mother. My family of origin is very, very sick, and I severed all contact with them 11 years ago. The empathy part of it is easy for me at this point, as I don't blame my parents for the abuse they perpetrated on me. They both are/were very damaged people who are/were a product of their culture and experience.

The difficulty for me is in healing myself at the stage of infant and early child. I feel it happening, but it is very slow. This whole topic of competing for attention can stimulate immediate dissociation with me as competing for attention in my family could have lethal consequences. My father's mother died when he was six, and he never recovered from it. So, the only coping strategy I learned was to be a chameleon and completely submerge any sense of self.

It feels healthy to read your experiences. It allows me to approach some of my own issues less directly and therefore be able to actually approach them.

Thanks. Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#462610 - 03/14/14 03:15 PM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: focusedbody]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Don and FB,

Thanks for writing and for relieving me of my fear of having created a trigger prone thread. It's good to know that what I'm exploring is helpful to you too. :-)

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
... the internalizing of the voices of women around me.


Sometimes I get the sense that what I pick up from many women often isn't spoken overtly. It's like a felt sense. Something that may have started while I was still unable to speak or understand speech. I find that aspect very confusing. It's like I gravitate towards an angry energy that is created by women and has a sexual charge to it. It seems I'm used to it. It's familiar even if toxic.

I'm getting better at setting limits on this and recently got very angry when a woman in a nature video I was watching sexualized the context quite strongly. I was surprised at the intensity of my anger, and relieved that I was starting to disconnect from that power play often used by women.

Originally Posted By: don64
The difficulty for me is in healing myself at the stage of infant and early child.


This has been very challenging for me too. So much of that aspect of healing involves loving non-sexual touch. I've found that very hard to get in a safe setting. Paid massage therapists help but it seems limiting after a while. I recently had a fellow offer Therapeutic Touch sessions while he trains. This was a big breakthrough for me. I've trained in several forms of healing touch. Unfortunately the practice groups are often dominated by women and don't welcome open communication and healthy boundary setting. I often seem to attract married women who are frustrated in their relationship and unwilling to do anything about it except pretend to be "helping" me. Guys, where I live, are generally very averse to participating in any kind of healing touch with other men. I wish there was a therapy group for male survivors locally. I think that would be a better source of safe partners.

There is one approach to healing for which I would love to be able to find a partner some day. I've been working on this for many years and once found a woman who lasted 3 nights. At that point she freaked and bailed. Too much intimacy for her I think. The approach is described here:

http://www.reuniting.info/node/1734

and involves sleeping (no sex) with a partner for at least three weeks and engaging in bonding behaviours. The theory is that it can reverse (heal) traumatic bonding in childhood.

I've pretty much given up on trying to find a partner where I live. I want to explore a Cuddle Party group (see: http://www.cuddleparty.com/) when I'm strong enough to see if that helps. A therapist warned me that it might not be safe but I figure, nothing ventured nothing gained. They talk about healthy boundary setting quite strongly.

I've also explored Peter Levine's Sexual Healing CD a little as well. It seems to be helpful even though it doesn't do much to heal the isolation I feel.

Thanks for writing. It's great to hear from you as we explore this challenging aspect of healing ourselves. I appreciate your willingness to join me.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"



Edited by gaatt (03/14/14 04:14 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#462734 - 03/16/14 10:04 PM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 374
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: gaatt
Sometimes I get the sense that what I pick up from many women often isn't spoken overtly. It's like a felt sense. Something that may have started while I was still unable to speak or understand speech. I find that aspect very confusing. It's like I gravitate towards an angry energy that is created by women and has a sexual charge to it. It seems I'm used to it. It's familiar even if toxic.

I'm getting better at setting limits on this and recently got very angry when a woman in a nature video I was watching sexualized the context quite strongly. I was surprised at the intensity of my anger, and relieved that I was starting to disconnect from that power play often used by women.


Gaatt:

It is such a gift to hear you describe it this way. At the same time it reminds me of how much more work needs to be done.

Long before I faced all of this, I began working with my felt sense. As I got more aware of the past as well as the present, I appreciated my ability to stay connected, to have a sense of what I was feeling through whatever images were helpful when I wasn't sure.

Along the way, it can seem awful to discover what you are describing, yet somehow relieving as well. It's as if with the knowledge that something frightening is actually real, comes a relief from trying to talk yourself out of it. Slowly I have gotten used to having the recognition that this dynamic is actually happening and not just an abstract experience that I can mentally dismiss. It helps to hear you say that there was probably some kind of conditioning at an early age to identify with the felt sense of women. For me, it has been pretty clear that this also served a defense against some out of control male energy in my family, something which you might be to identify with.

Now that I am gradually owning a truer picture of myself, I also want to slowly let go of this conditioned reflex. I want to consciously stop identifying with what women are saying without actually listening and considering what is happening in the present. Yes, this set of interactions can be confusing and seem complicated at first. But having seen some progress along the way, I feel it is important to continue looking for clarity here as well.

What's particularly powerful about a felt sense is that it is uniquely one's own. I tend to believe that no matter how much I want to identify with women around me, it is also true that accepting the knowledge of what I am experiencing and feeling will more characteristically reveal a different perspective. That is, by staying with my own experience, I can more safely see how I am actually different from the women around me. This can be a slow process. Having initiated it a few years ago and not given up on it, I have seen some growth in my awareness. The more I engage in this, the closer I feel I get to what is truly me.

Originally Posted By: gaatt
I often seem to attract married women who are frustrated in their relationship and unwilling to do anything about it except pretend to be "helping" me.


This is very familiar to me. Too many times I got sucked into the sensitive guy trap. This is again something that Robert Bly has written a lot about.

It can feel very condescending to have a woman act like you need to be helped. However, I think what is best to do in these situations is listen and have an awareness of who the woman is who is speaking to you. For me, this feels like a source of strength, to listen without feeling the need to respond in kind.

Originally Posted By: gaatt
I've also explored Peter Levine's Sexual Healing CD a little as well. It seems to be helpful even though it doesn't do much to heal the isolation I feel.


Haven't looked at this yet, but as you know, Levine is pretty big on working with the felt sense. I find that in general, staying connected this way helps me feel less isolated.

This is challenging work. Hope you remain hopeful and able to take care of yourself as you move along these new courses of recovery.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#462772 - 03/17/14 08:36 PM Re: How men participate in the dynamic. [Re: focusedbody]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 124
Hi Focussed,

Thanks for writing.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
It is such a gift to hear you describe it this way.

Thanks! It's great for me to be able to write to people who seem to understand me from a place of shared experience. It's the only place I know where I can do this.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
It helps to hear you say that there was probably some kind of conditioning at an early age to identify with the felt sense of women. For me, it has been pretty clear that this also served a defense against some out of control male energy in my family, something which you might be to identify with.

Thanks. I've done alot of work to see the early conditioning of my youth. It definitely wasn't obvious at first. My first hint was a time-line regression I did many years ago that took me back to my birth. The image I got was of me standing in a very dark forest crying for help and no-one was there. At the time I had no idea why this image might have come to my mind. I do now!

The clues came slowly. My mother experienced the really tragic deaths of both of her immediate siblings (her much younger brother and her twin sister) before I turned four. This was never talked about openly and clearly in our family. It was more or less the pink elephant in the middle of the room that nobody would or could mention. I was named after my mother's brother who died of cancer 9 days after I was born. Her sister died 3 years later. Emotional support for my mother was virtually non-existent in the military context of our family. Military men do not understand vulnerability (their own or others) at all. So my understanding of my earliest conditioning was that of an infant (and not yet born fetus) with a severely traumatized support person who was trying to survive in a social support vacuum.

After reading "The Feminine Mystique" I began to see the frustration of women who bought conservative values more clearly. I also got confirmation of its toxic effect on their kids through this book. I have heard my mother express her frustration at my father's unwillingness to educate my brother and I sexually. I have also heard her talk indirectly (she disguises it well) about her resentment at having to embrace the housewife/mother role forced upon her. That would have kicked in long before I was born. The clues generally haven't been overly obvious or advertised but they have been there if I looked.

Yes, I definitely identify with the out of control male energy. The military (my father was an officer) is nuts in that regard, yet highly celebrated in this culture of ours. The "collateral damage" they engender is virtually ignored. I was that "collateral damage". That's essentially what I'm healing in myself.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
It can feel very condescending to have a woman act like you need to be helped. However, I think what is best to do in these situations is listen and have an awareness of who the woman is who is speaking to you. For me, this feels like a source of strength, to listen without feeling the need to respond in kind.

Thanks. Those are good ideas. I think what draws me into it is the promise of the kind of nurturing newborns need and I still crave. These women are generally very good a putting out a warm loving energy. Unfortunately, they are not free to connect with me in a way that would actually help me heal (i.e. I can't get physical with them in any way and stay safe). My feelings are generally not welcome and the topic of love and healing seems scary to them (from what I've experienced of them). So I experience them a little like a newborn kid would experience a breast full of milk and yet I can't drink.

I have to learn to disconnect from that empty promise and find people who are actually interested in participating in my healing path with me. That's people like you. Although I can't connect physically with you at all (even to trade a healing touch session), I can express what's happening to me in a way that is helpful to both of us.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
This is challenging work. Hope you remain hopeful and able to take care of yourself as you move along these new courses of recovery.

Yes this is very challenging work. It is so subtle, so loaded energetically and so culturally taboo. I appreciate your support and this network a great deal. It's the only place I can really express what I'm experiencing. I'm glad to hear that its helpful to you too. I also think that its important work beyond just you, me and the others on this forum. This work is part of something that has deep roots in humans.

Thanks for your concern for my well being. I'm actually doing better than I have in a long time. I went through a deep confrontation with the suicidal urges that have plagued me for many years last September. It was the first time I had been offered support to pursue them (a friend offered). I was very ill at the time. I decided not to pursue that direction and managed to find a life purpose that works for me (rather than simply staying alive to satisfy my mother. That's a trip I had done for many years already). My health has been steadily improving ever since. I feel like I'm finally on the way out of the stuff that has haunted me in one way or another all my life. Thanks again for your help.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (03/17/14 08:39 PM)
Edit Reason: Clarity
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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