Last night, Gary and I had a discussion about my willingness to be open and sharing. He said that he felt a bit funny with the fact that he shares so much about himself yet I don’t. He also finds it odd that he’s cried in front of me several times and yet I can talk about really sensitive subjects and not shed a tear or even come close to being emotional. He commented that I’m more of a man at times than a woman and I had to listen and take on board all he was saying because once again, I can’t help thinking that life has brought Gary into my world to help show me the way to who I really am and who, deep down, I want to be. He’s right, I am more manly in a lot of ways and, if I’m honest, I’ve known it for a long time and I don’t like it.
It’s the hardened version of me that I’ve spoke about before. It’s the lack of feeling, the numbness, the anger, aggression and assertiveness that drives me every day. It’s the need to be right and the need to be fiercely independent and not ask anyone for help. I spent much of today thinking about what Gary said and realising, for the first time, how unattractive that must be for him because men generally want a soft, gentle, loving woman. Dating me must be for Gary, what it was for me, dating Phil. Phil was so far into his feminine side that I often felt as though I were dating a woman and it was so unattractive to me. There were times I spoke to him about it and told him I needed him to be more manly, more assertive but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t step into his masculinity any more than I have stepped into my femininity but the thing is I’m not even sure I know how to. This is a huge part of who I am now and it’s served me very well in life. Had I not been this strong and assertive I’ve no doubt I wouldn’t have come out of all the things that have challenged me, quite so well. I think I’d have been a wreck which is why I fear it’s not going to be easy for me to step away from all that I’ve known and has kept me safe for so long, and into an area that is completely unknown for me and the worst part is trusting that if I were to become more gentle, loving and receptive that Gary wouldn’t abuse that. I have to trust that he’s masculine and feminine enough to respect my gentleness and that scares me so much, to think that I don’t know that about him yet, but the only way to find out, is to do it and risk getting destroyed again.
I also spent much of today thinking about how I became so masculine. I can remember being a typical young girl, I was never a tomboy. I played with dolls and babies and I was probably very feminine in my ways and my outlook. I was very emotional, crying at the drop of a hat over anything, and very feeling and compassionate. I suppose the more my family took the piss out of me for crying and feeling scared and vulnerable, the more I learnt not to show emotion. The more my feelings were denied or laughed at, which they often were, the more I moved away from the feeling part of me. The more I was ignored, the more I was punished, the more I withdrew away from being a girl and toughened into being more male. When I add all that to all of the things Mum taught me such as men can’t be trusted and how I’m tough and independent and how I was never to let a man walk all over me and witnessing my Mum and my Nan acting a more masculine role too because they had to, possibly taught me that it just wasn’t acceptable or safe to reside in who I deeply longed to be. I witnessed my Dad abusing his masculinity towards my mum, towards me, towards others. He still does it now. He bullied and used his ‘power’ to hurt me and I had to really learn to be tough to overcome that. And then of course there were all the relationships in my life that have shaped me along the way. Danny who was very masculine and really encouraged the feminine in me was probably the only one but then when he left so abruptly I had to toughen up very quickly for the sake of mine and Josh’s survival, in terms of living life day to day in an environment that was new to us in every way.
Greg who, like Phil, was very feminine. The man who hid and left me to fight his battles because he was too scared to do it himself. Such as the time he hit a man with his car and he locked himself in and made me get out and deal with the man’s aggression. I had to be tough, the same as I had to be tough and assertive when he hid when a neighbour came round and started an argument. I couldn’t remain gentle, someone had to be tough or we’d have been victims. I had to be the man in that relationship because Greg was never capable of being. He couldn’t and wouldn’t make a decision and he hid behind me constantly.
And then I met Tom and I unconsciously decided I wouldn’t be the man in that relationship, that I wanted him to take the lead. I actually did allow the feminine to come out with him. I dressed more girly, I was softer, more loving, gentle, caring, receptive ~ I probably possessed every feminine trait there is at that point in my life and I quite possibly didn’t act in the masculine very often at all but what I gained from that was being abused. He completely abused my gentleness, and proved my deepest fear to be true ~ that it wasn’t safe for me to be a woman. Not only did he abuse it, he also taught me it was a weakness. He told me I was wrong for being gentle and caring towards others, he criticised the way I dressed. He took the piss out of me for wanting love and affection, he called me soppy and ripped me apart when I tried to even broach the subject of romance and tenderness, as if it were something to be ashamed of. He denied me a sexual relationship which in turn, denied my femininity on every level. By the time I left him I felt ugly, insecure and weak and I really had no choice but to toughen up more than I ever had before to overcome what he did to me and to ensure he didn’t do it anymore. He only stopped abusing and controlling me when I became more masculine than him and he couldn’t ‘fight’ me anymore.
Then there was Phil who was so soft and gentle that had I also adopted that role we’d have melded into a pile of sloppy nothingness. Someone had to provide the yang to the yin and Phil was never going to be that. I pushed him constantly into challenging situations to try and get him to be more male but every time he yielded to me and it just made me more determined in my male strengths. I became selfish and self centered to make him snap and stand up to me, yet he never did. He just became more gentle, loving, understanding and womanly than I could ever be. Even sex was a role reversal. I was always on top and in control. He, like a woman, couldn’t let go and orgasm. He wanted to kiss and hold me, I wanted to turn over and go to sleep. Although the relationship served me well on a healing level, it did me such a disservice when it came to me being who I really am, which is ironic as I felt as though Phil were the only person I could be myself with but looking back, I couldn’t at all.
Finally there’s the belief that grew over the years, from childhood, that I was a burden and so I learnt not to share anything about myself or my feelings in an attempt to protect others from me. I didn’t want to burden anyone with how I was feeling or even anything that was going on in my life, instead I always put on a brave face and lied through my teeth, if necessary, so as not to be seen as troublesome because it was always about me trying to please others, most especially my parents, so that they would love me. That old chestnut.
Being on my own for more years than I’ve lived with someone, I’ve had to be strong, assertive and masculine. There was no way I could be the typical female, it’s been safer for me to be more male and then there’s the lack of support in every area from every person, that’s also made me tougher, harder.
Now of course, there’s Gary, who is more male than anyone I’ve ever known, who pushes me constantly to become more feminine and I’m scared that if I don’t, I’ll lose him because he simply won’t find me attractive, because men want to date a woman, not a male version of a woman. His masculinity is so great that the only words I could use to describe him when I spoke to a friend about him recently were ‘dangerous’ and ‘caveman like’ and yet it’s these two things that are so seductive to me. I love his masculinity more than I sometimes realise, it makes me feel safe and protected, it turns me on sexually, emotionally and intellectually but the opposite to that is it also threatens me greatly because currently, at times, it’s like two men having a power battle, but ironically I don’t want him to lose that battle because if he does that, he’ll become more feminine and therefore less attractive to me and so the only thing there is to do, is for me to let go of every single thought, belief and action that I’ve been conditioned to regard as truth and that has kept me safe and secure for the last 30+ years and allow myself to fall, knowing there’s no safety net but hoping that one will magically appear.
I have to stop arguing like a man, stop needing to be right, stop trying to solve everything for everyone, stop doing and being everything I’ve ever been, and start reinventing myself, to a degree, but I don’t know where to start or how to go about it. I’ve got to learn to feel, to cry, to share, to allow myself to feel vulnerable and to do it all with a man that’s even more ‘male’ than the people that have hurt me the most in life and that in itself is a huge challenge because it’s the masculine power that’s been my biggest threat in life to date.