Dear Men

Dear Men,

I don’t trust you.

I don’t trust men.

This is ironic since I am one. I wonder if this means I do not trust myself?

Men have done terrible things to me and around me my entire life. Men have abandoned me in the form of father. Almost every single woman I have ever met has been sexually and/or physically and emotionally abused by men. I have been sexually abused by men in positions of authority over me for years as a child/teen.

Now – over time, I have learned to compartmentalize things. For instance in my professional life I do not allow this inherent distrust to affect decision making and interaction with partners and peers etc. It is in my personal life where this distrust works itself out the most.

I feel safe with and around women. Women represent nurturing, life, love, beauty, compassion, empathy, acceptance, partnership and strength. Men represent abandonment, ugliness, abuse, weakness, conflict, hate and anger. I know this is not fair.

For these reasons I do not have many deep male relationships. Frankly I do not have many deep relationships overall but this likely relates more to social awkwardness and a tendency toward relational introversion than anything else.

I trust my sons.

I have two amazing sons (and an amazing daughter) and I trust them and love them unreservedly. My hope was to ensure (for my part) my sons would grow up to be the men I never knew but wished I had. I love that I can look at my children and honestly say I want to be like them when I grow up.

I think my lack of trust has made it difficult for me to show affection for the men in my life. I have overcome this with my sons (I hope) but absolutely am triggered by past traumas when it comes to men in general. I couldn’t even handle having a male doctor until a couple of years ago. When I went to therapy going to a man was absolutely out of the question as well.

Men in general elude me however. I never knew how to be one which is fine really. I decided a long time ago I would simply be me. I don’t seek to be Manly Me, just me. I am a complex combination of experience and biology. My mother was my primary caregiver and example. I’d like to think I am a little like her.

When I sought out and joined things like boxing, Judo, Cubs, Scouts, Air Cadets, the military, etc. it was not to reinforce, develop and shore up manliness in me – it was to pursue things I found genuinely interesting. Gender was never something that factored into it for me.

To the men in my life who may have sought genuine connection with me and failed I apologize…I will employ the proverbial “it’s not you it’s me” statement here.

Now as I approach 55 years old I can finally say with some level of confidence that I don’t miss men or the “male mystique” or whatever. In the early part of my life I hunted down this thing called masculinity and men that I thought was missing because well meaning people told me it was (mum, society, etc). I sought men in God, faith and religion; I sought them in mentors (or maybe MENtors lol).

This kind of seeking did a disservice to those things because what I was looking for they could not provide and so my experience and use of those things was twisted I think but I did as well as I could in those spaces.

I am now in a place where I am happy to be what I am. I feel complete as me regardless of the absence and abuse of men. I would help men who are like the ones that hurt me if I could if only to prevent and mitigate such hurt in other lives.

Still the distrust lingers and in some way is now almost instinct. The pain of the past visible in the scars of the present I suppose.

In the end I hope when people see me they see nurturing, life, love, beauty, compassion, empathy, acceptance, partnership and strength – every amazing thing I see and have learned in and from the women I love.

nothing

nothing makes sense.

do you hear me when I say this?
in this star-filled universe
where time is bent by gravity
and people buy Ford Mustangs
and take lovers to their existential beds
to ward off that ultimate fall into truth

only nothing,
makes sense.

everything and anything
is just a dream to fill the fevered void;
just a nightmare to haunt the dark empty
and drive men like me insane

the painful beauty of youth

the painful beauty of youth
is that desperate clarity
that comes, wide-eyed, from
lessons yet to be learned
driving you forward through fires
that send the angry aged hiding
in the shadowed safety of graves to come,
covering their cloudy eyes
that their fearful cataract minds
might find solace in forgetfulness.

this is why we cling weeping
to our unspoiled child-selves
with a hope that their buoyant light
might lift us above this grating sphere,
and why there are always
tears in the eyes of our elders
and a heartache that ever grows.

the beauty of it all

stop.

i have to say it again,
this time with feeling:

STOP!

it takes a force of will
to simply

s
t
o
p

to pause in the midst,
to take a breath
between the breaking of the waves
requires time and effort,
but it creates a space
where time can rest for a small moment
and we can absorb
the beauty of it all
amidst the horror, amidst the noise

when i take the moment
with intentionality and look,
i see my fortune
in seeing anything at all;
i see what i have gained
by being able to gain
anything at all

words left unsaid

how much time is spent by some
worrying about words left unsaid
as the days speed by and the mouth –
well it remains solidly sewn shut

for my part i think every word is spoken
in action, in writing, and
in the silence that is the calm ocean between us

in days to come when you recall
you will say “he would have loved” or
“he would have said” and
“this is where he would be”
because you,
you knew me

to be known
is to have said it all

the insecurity blanket

it’s time, i think,
to leave behind the insecurity blanket
that has been wrapped around me
like chains around a drowning man

to remember who i am
in the full light of day
and forget the one that has been
bound and buried beneath the earth

should i shed this skin
and consume it piece by piece
that it might never take hold again?
should i flex with sheer force of will
to shatter links i helped forge?

i should, even knowing it can return
and tempt me with warm oblivion;
to overcome once – that is a hope
to another me waiting in the future
and looking back for reminders
that strength lost that can be found,
that the deaf can once again hear sound
and the fallen can continue to rise up
and place their feet on solid ground