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#423238 - 01/26/13 12:11 AM How do you handle vulnerability?
SkyLukewalker Offline


Registered: 08/12/12
Posts: 31
Loc: West Coast, US
I'm in the middle of a lot of stress in my life but one thing that popped up was an issue that stemmed from an argument I was having with my wife.

The stress I've got is job-related. I've been getting wound tighter and tighter while I wait to find out whether I'll have a job in March. Meanwhile, I have something else lined up but it isn't 100% and the other company is trying to see if they can hang onto me. Very stressful time.

All that being said, I've been feeling lower and lower - I snapped at my wife and son yesterday and we had a bit of a blowout. I realized at the bottom of it was that I was feeling vulnerable because of my situation and I was angry at her because the things she was saying and doing was contributing, unwittingly, to me feeling vulnerable.

When I step back and consider all the stuff I've been feeling with SSA or triggers, I realize that at the bottom of it, vulnerability, or the perceived lack of vulnerability, plays a big role. I'll get triggered off of different things - one of them being young and/or successful males who are going about their lives seemingly invulnerable to the things that weigh me down.

I'll do different things to build myself up (taking care of myself, working, side projects) but if my schedule doesn't allow me to do those things as much as I want, or if circumstances are threatening to me - I'll be in this feedback loop of vulnerability until I either act out, snap at people or things start to get better.

I guess this is a new thought for me and I wanted to throw it out to you. How do you handle vulnerability?

Thanks in advance.

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#423243 - 01/26/13 12:38 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
genedebs Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/12
Posts: 310
Loc: MO
Well Sky

What makes me vulnerable is understanding and I was and am unprotected. Obviously. When I accept that I was powerless to avoid or prevent my abuse I am aware of my vulnerability. Then, any circumstgance reinforces my vulnerability. n It is the money issues, or job issues, or self esteem issues, or triggers or SSA or envy or jelousy.

I will select anything that permits me to avoid accepting that I was vulnerable and never had the power to protect me. I will then attempt to identify something in particular over which I have no or insufficient power. Then if I can focus on it or fight with it or explode at it, I can pretend that I wasn't always powerless and so my vulnerability is transitory.

In fact it is all part of my trying to avoid accepting how powerless I was in the CSA experience. But the truth is when ever I feel vulnerable it is partly accepting that I WAS ALWAYS VULNERABLE. And feeling vulnerable makes me more aware of my danger and that I can no longer lie to me about how I am vulnerable now and was not vulnerable then. But in fact it is the vulnerability that I am aware of now, that triggers my fears related to my vulnerability inmy childhood.

How do I deal with it, I work as hard as I can to continue to feel vulnerable instead of trying to cover it up or deny it.

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#423251 - 01/26/13 04:36 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2592
Loc: durham, north england
Hi.

As someone with a visual imparement, vulnerability is something I struggle with, however it is on three completely different levels.

Firstly, there is vulnerability to external circumstances and to dependence upon others. This I try to reduce as much as possible by simply making dam sure I am iin full charge of my own circumstances, or when I cannot reduce it to nothing, reducing it to a commercial relation. For example, I will never go to a social function unless! I have a method by which I personally can leave under my own steem, usually by paying a taxi driver rather than accepting a lift from someone else. Same goes for my academic work on my thesis. If something needs doing I will make dam sure I do it for myself or pay someone to get it done, since the alternative is depending upon someone else. Of course, there are circumstances where this is not possible, and where this is not possible is when I find myself needing to develope the faculties of patience and trust, this then leads into the second sort of vulnerability.

Social vulnerability. This is feeling like an outsider or like a person who does not belong. One thing that helped me here is recognizing my own abilities. I have developed some pretty crytical techniques in terms of persuasion, extravertion and ability to talk to people. Realizing myself that this is an ability I have, that I can! usually get people on my side (despite enduring people's prejudices and habbit of treating me like an alien species when they first meet me due to disfunctional eyeballs). These techniques include sensing other people's emotions, the ability to project different emotions of my own, and to make conversation on a wide variety of topics. These are pretty crytical if you want to survive as a disabled individual, but also for me recognizing in a quite cold and logical way that they were abilities I had, that they were methods I could use to get someone else on side, however much of an outsider I to be feeling helped a lot with my thoughts on vulnerability.

The only problem i still find is an unwillingness to want to go through all that again with a new person or new group of people, to wish that people would just accept me without my need to employ such social techniques, but that's my own failing and something I'm working on.

Lastly, there is jealousy. However the thing that helps me most with jealousy is simply being honest about it. yes, I am! jealous of certain people, particularly people who get through on good looks and charisma and haven't had a day of trouble in their life, ---- or people who blow up a given problem to outragious proportions.

Yet, there is no point engaging in misery poker as a friend of mine put it, that is saying how much more miserable your life is than everyone else's.

There's one of the adrian mole books where his gran says to him "eat your sprouts Adrian, there are lots of children starving in Africa who would be glad of them" to which Adrian replies "well stick them in the post and let them! have them then"

Frankly yes, I get jealous, I've got a good reason to be jealous, just as I'm pretty sure some people (like those children starving in Africa), are probably jealous of me. However, rather than trying to avoid the jealousy or say it doesn't happen, simply admitting that I am! jealous, and beng completely honest about it, then moving on helps most.

indeed, with any sort of vulnerability this is probably the best stratogy. There is no logical reason a person should feel ashamed at being vulnerable, since frankly everyone is, simply because we aren't superheroes.

"yes! I do not have this power and am pissed off about it!" is probably a much more helpfull thing to say than "I am so inadequate because I don't have power over x y z"

Luke.

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#423308 - 01/26/13 06:27 PM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
Letourski Offline


Registered: 03/15/08
Posts: 314
Loc: Canada
I agree with you gene. I refused to accept I was vulnerable. It was even easier to admit some culpability rather saying outright I was vulnerable. My vulnerability was preyed on, and it is clear to me that I was used to selfish ends. Despite knowing that truth all along and hearing words like rape and sexual abuse used to describe what was done to me, I still felt as if somehow it wasn't me. It must have been some other boy. And now vulnerability triggers an intense feeling of wanting to withdraw.

I can't think of a more vulnerable moment than lying over his knees. And now I hate vulnerability. Heal well.

Daniel
_________________________
I am the warrior.

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#423315 - 01/26/13 09:26 PM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
SkyLukewalker Offline


Registered: 08/12/12
Posts: 31
Loc: West Coast, US
I appreciate the responses but I think it's clear I'm talking about it from another level. I think the way I handle vulnerability came from how I grew up.

Being vulnerable in my family made you a target for ridicule ... you got your brother pushing your buttons until you snap, then you got Dad telling your brother to push you around with his permission because you were 'disrespectful' to him. Other times, you're the butt of jokes until explode and then Mom or Dad are telling you to 'get over yourself.

All that being said, being vulnerable, admitting that you need support and understanding, isn't something that comes naturally. I don't necessarily sexualize it but there is a sexual component in there that I haven't quite wrapped my head around. I had befriended a young man in his late-20s who was dealing with drug recovery and it seemed like a good idea at the time. He wasn't interested in sex, I wasn't interested in drugs. Neither of us seemed likely to fall into each other's vices.

At first, I was really concerned about him for his sake - for good reasons - later on it became obvious that I developed sexual feelings for him. I didn't want to engage in a sexual relationship with him, me with a wife and 2-year-old son ... it would have ruined my marriage, and yet the feelings wouldn't go away. I became weirdly possessive and terrified - I had admitted my past to him and became incredibly vulnerable to him - it started taking on a life of its own. Eventually, he got tired of it and in the long run I think this saved me. No sexual contact, no acting out. We don't talk any more ... it got too weird.

Anyway - now that I'm vulnerable again, I'm not going down that path but I'm still trying to figure this thing out.

Thoughts?

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#423343 - 01/27/13 09:11 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
Still Around Offline


Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 22
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'm echoing what a lot of men have said here and say that for many years I refused to admit I was capable of being vulnerable, even when I clearly was. For me it wasn't because I wasn't because of ridicule per se, but that I had to pretend for my own sake that I was strong, that I was not affected by anything--which always made me come across as cold or distant. But there were things that took their toll, just things people would say, that would really get under my skin but that I would never do anything about. Things like comparing me to a famous local historian who ended up dying alone surrounded by his junk like the Collyer brothers in NYC (there are dark rumors, of course, about his childhood), or the guys saying how if I'm married before any of them it'll be a cold day in hell. Things like that. And it ate away at me for years until it all came crashing down a few months ago.

And the truth, I realize now, is that I was always tremendously vulnerable, and I am still. It was that vulnerability that was used to forever affect the course of my life, so of course I could never admit I could be vulnerable again--or ever again place myself in a position where I could be vulnerable.

I'm still in the early stages of working through all this, Sky, so I may not have as clear a view as many, but somedays, those bad days like I've had recently, I take vulnerability as a threat, something to be fought. But the truth is, I am realizing, is that being vulnerable is O.K., and not only is it O.K., it is part of being a full person. And though life has taught us, painfully, destructively, otherwise, it is O.K. to let others see the vulnerability in you. Nobody is invulnerable, as much as we may say we are.

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#423351 - 01/27/13 10:36 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
Mountainous Buck Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 1631
Loc: Minnesota
For most of my life I've been defensive and valued strength as a means to protect myself from threats - real and imagined. I've envied guys who appeared invulnerable because I felt broken inside.

Another consequence stemming from the abuse.

I look at all this as a broken ability to be intimate- and intimacy gets confused with sexuality too easily for guys who grew up like me and have misused sex to escape feelings so much like I did for years.

What works is developing healthy intimacy and to know I can take care of myself so I am not vulnerable to most other people unless I choose to be. I can be emotionally vulnerable to guys in my life and it not be weird- that is so far from where I came from in life!

I used to view a lot of work situations with bosses as potential rapists. That's messed up. smile


Edited by Mountainous Buck (01/27/13 10:39 AM)
_________________________
We have to take responsibility for what we're not responsible for.

�It doesn't matter where you've come from,
It matters where you go" Frank Turner

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#423352 - 01/27/13 10:43 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
Casmir213 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 851
Loc: Northeast, USA
Sky,

Well, let me first say that it makes sense that you are experiencing serious stress and that you feel very vulnerable right now in light of the fact that your future employment situation is uncertain. I can relate because in March there will be uncertainty related to employment for me also. A general formula that I use to think about stress is this: uncertainty = stress. The fact that you're feeling vulnerable may not be a bad thing. It may give you an opportunity to deal with this feeling in a more adaptive fashion than you have in the past. That is, you may be able to communicate this feeling of vulnerability to those around you so that they can understand how you are feeling at this time and that you need some extra understanding and support. It also makes sense that you associate sex with the feeling of being vulnerable, as it has been associated with each other (a very powerful form of learning) in the past during sexual abuse. This makes sense when I think about myself also.

Caz
_________________________
I see recovery as a lifelong journey rather than a final destination, a journey, though, which can have many successes along the way.

WoR Alumnus - Hope Springs, OH, October 2009

My avatar is the farmhouse at the Hope Spring, OH WoR. It's a nice place.

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#423423 - 01/28/13 12:02 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: Casmir213]
SkyLukewalker Offline


Registered: 08/12/12
Posts: 31
Loc: West Coast, US
All good points. What you said, Cas, about uncertainty equaling stress especially resonated and my wife happens to agree with you.

We were talking about it today because I woke up from a disturbing, stress-induced sex dream where I was having an really inappropriate affair with a guy friend for whom I've never had anything but normal guy-friend feelings for. Deeply disturbing ... really upsetting.

The thing about the dream was this and here's where I could use some help. While I'm in the dream and events kind of roll over from 'is this happening' to 'oh my god, this is really happening ... I'm finally getting my feelings fulfilled.' The emotions of that moment are so much different from how I feel in normal intimacy with my wife. I've always chalked that feeling to just gratuitous fulfillment of desires ... but is that all there is to it?

Told my wife about it and she took it like a champ. Even said, "Look ... for you, fraternal feelings are somehow wired to sex. Don't read into the dream too much." She can be a real comfort sometimes. smile

What do you think?

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#423448 - 01/28/13 09:57 AM Re: How do you handle vulnerability? [Re: SkyLukewalker]
Casmir213 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 851
Loc: Northeast, USA
Hey Sky,

Glad that you're in open dialogue with your wife about the stress you are experiencing at this time. She sounds like an understanding and supportive person. I think these things are helpful in dealing with stress and feelings of vulnerability. It sounds like you have a lot of insight into what's going on within you right now, and this helps too.

It sounds to me, from your description of your dream, like your unconscious is processing some of your feelings of vulnerability and stress while you sleep. Here's my quasi-Freudian interpretation of your dream: Because your brain associates sex with these feelings, it created this "acting out" scenario in the safe environment of your unconscious where it could be acted out/expressed without you having to deal with all the negative consequences of acting it out in reality. I would say that the release of the tension, associated with stress and vulnerability, that comes from having these type of dreams is a safe way to discharge the buildup that eventually has to be released somehow. Glad you're talking about this with your wife and at MS also.

Caz
_________________________
I see recovery as a lifelong journey rather than a final destination, a journey, though, which can have many successes along the way.

WoR Alumnus - Hope Springs, OH, October 2009

My avatar is the farmhouse at the Hope Spring, OH WoR. It's a nice place.

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