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#505458 - 01/05/17 03:45 PM Confrontation (Trigger warning)
SubtleStuff Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 378
Loc: North America
Hi y'all,

I know confrontation with sources of neglect and abuse can be a loaded topic so I posted a trigger warning so that those who aren't ready for this kind of conversation can take care of themselves.

I've been pondering my own efforts to confront the sources of neglect, trauma and abuse in my history and am wondering what your experiences in this department have been like.

The primary direct source of trauma in my youth was clearly my mother. I started stopping the sexualization of her way of relating to me quite a while ago, immediately after my father died. It's been a delicate process and I've never called her a perpetrator of abuse to her directly because I tread a fine line between being the recipient of her support (mostly financial but she is supportive of my efforts to heal myself in other ways too) and needing to draw a line on the hurtful stuff. This phase seems to be mostly complete.

I see the difficulties of a woman of her era being trapped in a world where men didn't communicate about emotions and sex and love was a fantasy that revolved around marriage. She also was funneled into roles (wife and mother) that put huge demands on her and didn't give her much freedom or financial independence. This has connections to cultural patterns that were (and still are) broadly celebrated in the culture I was born into.

Confronting the lack of effective nurturing in my early youth is trickier. My mother was clearly emotionally overwhelmed and social conditioning made it virtually impossible for my father to take up the slack (not much room for that in a military officer's mind). When I look outside the family for support at this level it isn't there, even today! My efforts to create a gentler more physically affectionate and less sexualized community around me have fallen far short of my desires and I've certainly experienced the anger I feel at this situation. I've done much to draw attention to the need for support for male survivors in this area including speaking openly to a gathering of local social support service agencies about the lack of a support group for male survivors in this area. It was a shock to the feminists who organized the gathering, but they heard it!

So where do I direct my anger at an entire human culture that makes it very difficult for well meaning (but not particularly conscious) parents to effectively support children in their early years? I've definitely felt it and it tends to generalize to all people quickly. In my efforts to heal myself I've had to fall back on my spiritual interests and realize that we are all caught up in the machinations of our egos. The only one who can do anything about my own ego, in my understanding, is me. There isn't much I can do for others at this level. So I'm doing what I can for myself.

I sometimes wonder why I haven't felt the need to confront my father more strongly. I think it's because he fulfilled the role expected of him fairly well if you limit this to marriage partner, protector, family man and financial provider. He wasn't a particularly good lover, but given that our ideas around love are so strongly distorted by sex and marriage even to this day, it's difficult for me to hold him personally accountable for that. He could have done a better job of the emotional aspects of husband and father, but again these are rarely expected of men. He was overprotective of my mother's emotional needs at the expense of us kids in order to get his own emotional needs met but where else was he going to get those needs met? Who's responsible for our ideas around what it is to be a man? My father was pretty much in line with the standards expected of a 1950's family man. I suppose, again, my frustration gets directed at the vast majority of people. We are all responsible for what men end up aspiring to be. I think it's time for change. I certainly need change. The status quo isn't working for me.

Any thoughts?





Edited by SubtleStuff (05/18/17 03:40 PM)
Edit Reason: Safety
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#505480 - 01/07/17 03:41 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: SubtleStuff]
SubtleStuff Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 378
Loc: North America
Hi y'all,

I've been putting more thought into what my mother could have done to prevent subjecting me to the kind of trauma that happened to me in my youth. Much of what I lived was subtle and the urge to let her off the hook is very strong, so it's helpful for me to think along these lines.

She could have pursued the career she wanted. She didn't because it was dominated by men. That means it wouldn't have been an easy path but perhaps not completely impossible. She could have pursued the man she wanted (She once complained to me that she usually ended with men she had to take care of rather than the one she desired). Again not an easy path for a woman in her era but perhaps possible. She could have refrained from having children. Another difficult choice but I think more to her liking.

All of these choices are at the root of her anger in my estimation. In my family, anger was never expressed directly (with the exception of my father). It was diverted into other activities. Distraction was my mother's tool of choice in her efforts to avoid depression. Some of her anger ended up on me (one of her distractions) in ways that were heavily disguised but very hurtful anyways.

Just thinking out loud here. I hope you don't mind.


Edited by SubtleStuff (05/18/17 03:40 PM)
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#505483 - 01/07/17 09:51 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: SubtleStuff]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 537
Loc: NY
Gaatt:

As always, your thoughts and your thinking are appreciated.

These days I am sitting in the middle of said triangulation between mother and father and trying to gather enough of myself to accept and understand it. Your generous perspective seems very healthy to me.

What strikes me is the way you understand your father's role. I think mine was the same. His "overprotective" behavior was what men did. It probably kept all of what was uncertain or unbearable in order. It created the kind of safety that many or most people expected at that time.

But the role that your mother played seems to be questioned by her as well as you. I wonder if your process of questioning is what is stirring the anger. Perhaps your joint frustration feels outdated and yet still confining. Perhaps you are both understanding something about what people need.

For me, these kind of things bring up deeper feelings. Regret and sadness are there. I find it difficult to know how much of it is my regret and how much my mother's. But even in not knowing that, it feels right to acknowledge it. In doing so, there is a recognition that sometimes leads to a greater acceptance of who I am and who she is.

For me, noticing the anger is a beginning. I also like to notice how others may be stuck in roles as well. Perhaps like is not the right word, as it can increase my fear and sense of entrapment, but in trusting that truth is better accepted, I decide to remain a witness.

It seems that to take the step toward wonder and surrender some acknowledgment of the truth is necessary. Your understanding of what can be hurtful seems to fit that bill.

Anger in the healthy sense would seem to be something that is expressed as stating a need. It seems right that it wouldn't have the intention of making others go away.

You and your mother remain in contact. I wonder if that means you are willing to sit with some of this anger and ask what it could mean that would be positive. I am asking that as well.

For me, it is about self-awareness. Can I listen closely to myself and my responses in a way that will bring me into closer contact with those I love? This feels like a heart's desire and so should be honored.

FB
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#505493 - 01/08/17 04:52 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: focusedbody]
SubtleStuff Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 378
Loc: North America
Thanks FB,

I feel touched and honoured that you share your healing process with me this way. Sorting through all this stuff is challenging and far from an intellectual pursuit for me. My body goes through very painful episodes in response to my anger. It's important for me to find some compassion for myself (and others) and heal in some way.

Originally Posted By focusedbody
What strikes me is the way you understand your father's role. I think mine was the same. His "overprotective" behavior was what men did. It probably kept all of what was uncertain or unbearable in order. It created the kind of safety that many or most people expected at that time.

Yes. It was a very odd kind of safety too. Perhaps prior to the Cold War, conflict made some kind of sense amongst humans, but that conflict really was nuts! Vertical power structures and role specialization are very effective in times of conflict, but they don't help generate a more deeply felt sense of peace and harmonious human relations. I sense my family had all kinds of hidden conflicts going on in various ways particularly at the emotional and sexual levels. An effective focus on spiritual practice (and hence Love and a deeper sense of safety) didn't exist! It wasn't an ideal environment in which I could flourish as a child. I got real good at pretending and following orders, however!

Originally Posted By focusedbody
You and your mother remain in contact. I wonder if that means you are willing to sit with some of this anger and ask what it could mean that would be positive. I am asking that as well.

For me, it is about self-awareness. Can I listen closely to myself and my responses in a way that will bring me into closer contact with those I love? This feels like a heart's desire and so should be honored. FB

It's interesting to me that you should be wondering this way. It's precisely what I was exploring in myself this morning. A while ago I read that desire as an energy is holy. It's when we get obsessed with an object of desire that we get into trouble. My anger is clearly about wanting to get away from social connections that are disturbing and hurtful to me. Anything with a sexual charge, a political focus, or a lack of affection can trigger it. So I pondered what it was that I wanted and came up with social connections that are friendly, respectful, gentle, playful and affectionate. Not easy to come by, but imagining it, I can do! Feeling my body when I get into that imagination is also something I can do. I think approaching it this way helps me create it from the inside out, rather than trying to force it from the outside and becoming frustrated with the results.

Thanks for your thoughts. It's fantastic to hear from you! Happy New Year my friend! :-)



Edited by SubtleStuff (05/18/17 03:41 PM)
Edit Reason: Safety
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#506126 - 01/30/17 03:40 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: SubtleStuff]
SubtleStuff Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 378
Loc: North America
Hi Y'all,

This whole theme seems to be evolving in me with time. There was actually an episode fairly recently when my mother wanted me to go into counselling because she was worried (my health is very fragile right now. I have an excellent source of support for my healing through my Naturopath)! It was the clearest I've ever experienced of her blaming me for her emotional turmoil. Fortunately I was able to suggest that she seek counselling for herself and if the counsellor and/or herself thought I might be able to help in some way to please let me know and I'd do what I can.

I'm also revisiting in my mind a Facebook exchange I had with a woman a while ago who verbally abused my contribution when she couldn't challenge my answer to a question in a constructive way. Somehow I wish I had labelled her abuse for what it was rather than simply retreating as I did. I have a tendency to let women get away with angry aggression directed at me.

I came across a quote I really like today from Osho's Messiah Vol 2 Ch 4: It was his comments on Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet answering a woman who asked about pain:
"AND YOU WOULD WATCH WITH SERENITY THROUGH THE WINTERS OF YOUR GRIEF.
Why? When we can change it, why should we watch?
Watch only that which cannot be changed.
Watch only that which is natural -- be a witness to it.
But this is poetic cunningness. Beautiful words: and watch with serenity... what about Kahlil Gibran being beaten by his own wife? "Watch with serenity!"
Watch anything that is natural with serenity, and revolt against all suffering that is imposed by anybody. Whether it is a man or woman, whether it is your father or mother, whether it is the priest or the professor, whether it is the government or the society -- revolt!"

I was taught very young to "not upset mother". She could hurt me with impunity! Sigh! Good pattern to break! :-) This is one area where I might have challenged my father more strongly (it was his teaching to me). Who else was going to take care of me if I didn't upset her? She had a job to do!... to take care of me!... and she wasn't doing it very well!






Edited by SubtleStuff (05/18/17 03:41 PM)
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#506135 - 01/30/17 06:50 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: SubtleStuff]
Ceremony Online   confused


Registered: 09/14/16
Posts: 1615
Loc: Minnesota
Hello gaatt, I've read a lot of your posts, not just this thread.

Quote:
(my health is very fragile right now. I have an excellent source of support for my healing through my Naturopath)! It was the clearest I've ever experienced of her blaming me for her emotional turmoil. Fortunately I was able to suggest that she seek counselling for herself and if the counsellor and/or herself thought I might be able to help in some way to please let me know and I'd do what I can.




I'm sorry to hear about ongoing fragile health. At 55 I can relate. The quote there, it means a lot to what I've read since I started here Sept.,'16. That action, of suggesting your mom seek counselling in that compassionate manner is good to see.

That Gibran piece you shared through Osho (unfamiliar with Osho) speaks to the sensitivity of Gibran. Sensitivity to me is one I treasure, but seem inclined to demure, hide. Regrettably.

Best wishes Gaatt.

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#506180 - 01/31/17 11:05 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: SubtleStuff]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 537
Loc: NY
Gaatt:

The dynamic that you describe with your mother is familiar to me, and perhaps to others in that situation. It is also something that is fairly easy to do as a parent.

That being said, recognizing what is happening is the key to making a difference, whether you are the parent or the child.

Beyond that are feelings, some of which can be hard to have.

Maybe the need to blame for the turmoil grows out of another familiar trait, that of not taking the time to feel some sadness. While wanting things to be different and seeking to change a situation can be good impulses, when that desire grows too quickly, it seems it can hide deeper feelings of loss.

Another possible impulse is to see if there is space for grief and to recognize what has been missing. For me that can be the beginning of understanding where I have gotten lost and what still remains as a challenge to growing and accepting.

For your own mother to see this may be difficult. She probably has never had someone who said something like, "Not everything was well with your children. That can be sad. But it doesn't mean you are a bad person. It is something to accept".

There are times when I wish someone had taken my mother aside and helped her feel some of that. I think there may have been a couple times when we have begun from there, but have lacked some courage moving further on.

I have found that honestly walking through these moments in whatever way possible brings peace and eventually hope. And as Ceremony mentions, it also feels right to sit with the need for compassion, which recognizes suffering and allows for some of it to be known.

FB
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#506211 - 02/01/17 11:59 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: focusedbody]
Ceremony Online   confused


Registered: 09/14/16
Posts: 1615
Loc: Minnesota
FB, or Gaatt, anyone, This topic in the context of talking, relating to, understanding confrontation, it's been part of unresolved thoughts about my mother.

The short of it, I have an incredibly difficult time verbalizing what I think about my mother. Neglect and perhaps targeting me to feel unworthy have held me back. I also have a long held problem that I was the rejected child of her 3.

When she finally took me out of 9th grade, having me escorted out of school, and taken to a holding place, I had been "bad". 14-15 were isolating, sad, bullied years. It seemed hopeless, and about 4 months later, I was living with my dad. Whom I barely knew. Maybe 6 mos. later I was raped. So, that's all to reflect on why I feel my mother threw me away, neglected me, and in my self loathing, I isolated, shut up and played the good kid role if I could.

Ok, I'm 55, she's 77, and I have hurts that still fester in me, keeping me from truly letting go. What good is telling her now? And that even as an adult, her behavior toward me seemed rejecting? Though less so now.

Gaatt, it just seemed, here in your thread, you're describing feelings and actions that I ponder. Then FB posted this:
Quote:
For your own mother to see this may be difficult. She probably has never had someone who said something like, "Not everything was well with your children. That can be sad. But it doesn't mean you are a bad person. It is something to accept".


I take this into a twist, meaning turn it 180. I've had long held beliefs that my mother took advice from AA women or men regarding me. It's a sore spot. Like, she went off to them, told them stories, and she acted on their advice. Doing "the best she could do at the time". A cop-out that always bothers me!

So, I often wonder how that plays in other thoughts. Am I too - out there? Do others ponder their fate in the same way? When processing the hurt, is it just dealing with one's feelings, or if available talking this out with mom?

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#506226 - 02/02/17 11:21 PM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: Ceremony]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 537
Loc: NY


Ceremony:

I think that talking is always the best solution, if it is possible. Whether or not it is can be unclear, however.

For me, even before talking is taking the time to clarify my own thoughts and feelings. At a certain point, when I feel they are as clear as I could make them, I take the plunge and try speaking. The important thing for me at that moment is to have my expectations in the right place. Having some expectation, even if it is very low, helps me find some ground to work from.

As far as where my mother got her advice, it was probably not so good either. If it was, maybe some things would have worked out differently.

I think that at some point, mothers probably need some good advice or perspective from fathers, or a father figure, on how to be with their son. I wonder if there is some kind of loss when we don’t even think that is necessary.

For instance, in a good relationship, I don't think anyone takes care of their emotions completely by themselves alone. People might provide some balance as they watch out for each other. I would think that would apply to a mother and father.

So by no means should parents be given a chance to "cop out". But first seeing and accepting that something was missing could be important because it might be a necessary step to actually having some remorse. Otherwise, I'm afraid there may arise the possibility of denial that it even happened or a need to place blame before even considering how a child was hurt.

When the child is in some kind of triangle with both parents, one parent can also lay blame on the other without actually supporting them to make good parenting choices. This ends up creating even greater amounts of self-blame and anxiety, which in turn affects the children.

I believe something like this happened in my life and that I have suffered to some extent from the confusion. In some ways, the fear of even talking about the neglect makes it hard to accept the good with the bad, and move forward with hope.

But that is only true for me and I would not presume it correct for anyone else. Pondering how all this happened seems to me to be an individual process.

FB
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#506233 - 02/03/17 11:40 AM Re: Confrontation (Trigger warning) [Re: focusedbody]
Ceremony Online   confused


Registered: 09/14/16
Posts: 1615
Loc: Minnesota
Thank you, with all my heart, thank you focusedbody. I'll be taking time to reread this thread. It's holding some very deep parts of me.

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