Okay, so before we get into this let it be known that I hold no anger or ill will towards my mother. She was just doing what she thought was best for me in hard times with the tools at her disposal. That’s all that I could ever ask for; that she tried her best, which she did.
I’ve written before that I was the worlds best white knight. I’d sweep in with my trusty steed and save the damsel in distress. Unfortunately for me there were no damsels in my youth, only empowered and strong young women so I was kind-of screwed. To be fair it was easier that way though; that way I didn’t get too close. Getting too close meant I had to remove my mask. I couldn’t show the real me because that was too scary.
The first lie my mum told me was that women wanted a knight in shining armour. Yes, steed, lance and all, I would come swooping in whenever the need requests it. I was an exemplary example of doing women’s bidding and saying “Yes” to them. “Treat women right, Raymond, you don’t want to be like your dad” my mum would say, and I would take that in the literal sense, meaning that saying “no” to a woman isn’t treating her right — because I wasn’t allowed to say no to mum, that word wasn’t allowed in my vocabulary. I wasn’t allowed to grow up with my own sense of self.
What was also decidedly suspicious was that my mum on one hand told me that women wanted men to treat them right, to be yes men, and to do mostly what they asked, yet on the other hand she would date men that were absolute assholes when it came to relationships. I guess in my mums mind she didn’t want me to be like the men that she dated. She wanted to raise a son that treated women well and didn’t abuse them or take them for granted, which to be fair is admirable. But children mimic rather than listen, and I took away from the entire experience that women needed to be saved because men were bad in general. Thus began my lifetime of being suspicious of men.
The amount of young available girls I have passed by just to chase the unavailable one’s with shitty boyfriends was unreal. It was my job to rid the world of unhealthy men, which at the time was most of them because all I had witnessed so far in my life (apart from my good friends) were arseholes. Men that beat me up, men that beat other people up, men that beat their women up, or were abusive to them. I don’t think I had met a man that I could trust in several years when I was going through my low times — they were all incredibly abusive or addicts themselves, and me? Well, I was incredibly judgemental. Incredibly.
My mum started it all off though. If she didn’t shit talk my dad in front of me then perhaps it wouldn’t have been that bad. See, my dad was the only role model in a man that I was going to look to, to mimic, to look up to, to mirror my adulthood on, and perhaps that’s why I ended up in a psychiatric institution. I equally loved and hated my dad. I was full of the love a young boy holds for his father, always looking up to him, wanting to be like him, and yet besieged by uncontrollable thoughts of hatred by the poisonous words my mother had told me about him. That he was a cheater, a liar, and an addict. Yeah, I was confused, conflicted and didn’t know if I was coming or going.
I often wonder what my outlook on life would have been if instead of trying to protect me, my mother allowed me to make my own decisions, that she would remain an impartial party to what happened. I’m sure in the end my dad would have messed it up for himself anyway, and my perception of men in the world would remain intact. But alas, it was not to be.
This was a long stain on my life, my distrust of men. It’s not that I outright distrusted them, it was mainly the interactions I had with men in the past hadn’t been good ones. Women have for the most part always been kind and nurturing towards me whereas men have always been cold and brash. I’ve had fights with men, I’ve shared houses with abusive men, and I’ve nearly had my life destroyed by other men, so my distrust ran long and deep rooted through my life span.
It wasn’t until I met my wife that my trust in men changed. My wife opened my eyes to a whole new world; a world that if you had told me fifteen years ago had existed I would have laughed in your face. She introduced me to good solid people, and as I grew in comfort and self love I began to meet other people (and men) of the same calibre. What struck me as incredibly prevalent was that it seemed my mindset was guiding the flow of who I was meeting. I now repelled with severe prejudice men that I would normally attract. I had built boundaries for myself and didn’t allow people to cross them anymore. And with this I began to meet far more respectful, kind, and open men.
Recently, I reflected on my biases towards men again. As a survivor myself the whole Kavanaugh case had me running for under the covers. It had me reflecting on my own behaviour. Why was I hurting with the idea that men can’t help themselves? Why was I taking that as a personal attack on myself, and not let it run with everyone else? After all, I for one believe that all survivors must be heard. But I realised I was being lumped in with these men too; as I navigated social media people that don’t know me were beginning to call me privileged, and an abuser, and all sorts of things based on no foundation whatsoever. It occurred to me that I had been doing the exact same thing those people were. Not on a personal level of course, but even as I progressed through my writing I was still lumping men (apart from myself) into one neat little category. I was still in a way telling myself that I was different from these other men. I was STILL taking the moral high ground and applying it to myself on zero basis whatsoever.
So I took myself down a peg or two.
I’ve now moved into my masculine. I talk to far more men than I do women these days. Not through some weird moral fetish that I’m going to save them all from their sins, but through a genuine need to understand them. My entire life I have been surrounded by women and bad advice about other men, mainly because I’ve talked to very few men on the subject. I haven’t had many good men in my life to mimic; I’ve had a few, yes. I still have these guys as friends today, but as a balance I would like to have as many men friends as I do women.
There’s a whole world out there, and I want to experience it.