What I thought was going to be a time in my life where I learn to love again, I now realise is actually a time where for the first time, I’m learning to love a man. I know how to love in many areas of life. I know how to love my children so they feel loved, valued and appreciated. I know how to receive their love back. I know how to love my parents and how to receive their love. I know how to love my sisters and my friends but the one thing I don’t know how to do, and actually have probably never known, is to love a man.
I can see now, looking back, that Tom quite possibly felt unloved by me and that if he felt unloved, the behaviour that he, in turn, showed me, could have been, in part, about the pain of not feeling loved by me.
Phil would often say that he didn’t feel loved by me and I always justified that to myself because I didn’t love him, so, therefore, it was okay but I did love Tom and I couldn’t justify it. The one thing I realise from having Gary in my life is that for reasons unknown to me, I punish men. I don’t mean to and I don’t want to, but I think I do.
I’m completely aware that some of this behaviour is learned. I witnessed my mum punishing my dad on a daily basis, just for being male. She hated men and drummed into me from an early age that men weren’t to be trusted on any level. She belittles men and doesn’t see their value at all. I have to admit that there has been a positive to this, it has taught me to find my strength in being a woman which means I don’t rely on men to look after me but the downside to that is that I don’t allow men in. This needs to change.
I’m really looking at the way I’m feeling with Gary, at how much we argue, at my reactions to him and I don’t like what I see in myself. It’s not just me, it’s generations of women (my mum, my nans, aunts, etc) asserting their anger at being treated unfairly and yet Gary hasn’t done that to me. He’s done the complete opposite actually. It’s all bullshit. I am carrying other women’s anger and for what?
I could argue that maybe I’m angry with my Dad but I don’t feel this. Any anger I have had towards him in the past has been more like my mum’s anger that conditioned me to think I should be. I was told many times during my childhood how and why I should be angry with Dad, such as because he worked all the time and didn’t spend time with us and yet as a child, I wasn’t bothered by that. I was very accepting of the fact that Dad was out from 6am till 9pm. It never bothered me, I didn’t miss him and I didn’t feel abandoned by him as Mum tried to imply he had done, I just accepted it as it was. A Dad working hard for his family because when Dad was physically there with us, he was 100% there with us whereas Mum was physically there almost 100% of the time and yet emotionally she was never ever there. The reality is I was more abandoned by my mum than I was by my dad and yet she taught me that men will let me down and can’t be trusted. She projected her crap onto me, no doubt to try and protect me from the pain she had suffered, and yet it’s causing me as much pain than if I’d experienced her pain, myself.
And so the bottom line is, as Gary is showing me, I don’t actually know how to love and value a man and I don’t know how to allow a man in to love me in return. My experiences of loving a man throughout my life, with the main role models I had, were my mum hating my dad, my nan resenting my granddad and wishing she wasn’t with him, my other nan beating my granddad and treating him cruelly as often as she deemed necessary and aunts that slagged off husbands when out of earshot.
As an adult, I see my married friends manipulating their husbands to get what they want from them. In fact just last week, Karen said her rule for life is, “If it’s got balls, lie to it.” I have seen my sisters controlling their husbands until those men are so weak in their conviction of masculinity that my sisters walk all over them and don’t find them attractive any more. Last week in the co-op I overheard a conversation between a husband, a wife and the cashier. The wife picked up a bar of chocolate and the cashier said to the husband, “You should be buying that for your wife, it’s your job. It’s what you’re here for.” The wife laughed and he bought it for her. It was everything I could do to keep my mouth shut as I watched that poor man sink inside himself and just do as he was ordered to do. I am ashamed to be a woman if that is the representation that men have of us because, despite all my conditioning and everything that tried to get drummed into me, I don’t believe it.
I don’t believe my dad was the things my mum said about him. I don’t believe my granddads were what their wives accused them of. I don’t believe my aunts were justified in their whisperings. I don’t for one second believe that Karen is right, I don’t believe my sisters are fair and I don’t believe the cashier in the shop has any grounds for saying what she said.
The world has become all about strengthening women, which certainly needs to happen, but it sometimes happens at the detriment of men’s emotional health but for me, the reality is, I don’t know how to do it differently and how to keep hold of my feminine strength at the same time. The balance eludes me and unfortunately for Gary, he’s in the middle of this internal battle I’ve got going on. So, this morning I have been researching how to love a man. This is as important in my growth as everything else I have ever done but it’s also important for Gary and for every other male on the planet. Women need to start valuing men again and while some do, many many more, don’t. (Men also need to value women but that’s a whole other story.)
My research has taken me to articles written by men and to books that I have downloaded, written by men and I’m going to tackle this head-on, in whatever way I can and whatever way presents itself to me because I am not prepared to keep allowing my past to influence my present so much. I’m also going to learn to embrace the feminine because currently I’m very much living in a traditionally masculine role of strength but I’ve left behind my femininity in doing so and I think that’s as much of a problem as anything else.