Hey, L2R:

Your story sounds very similar to mine. There were boundary violations with my Mom and me that occurred all my life up until a couple of years ago, when I finally "got the picture".

I have many strange physical sensations that seem to relate to early memories. These days I am going very slowly and trying to listen to them.

My brother and I also had some problem growing up and becoming sexually healthy. There is a foggy period in my memory which I think begins around the time he was molested by a stranger.

There are many thoughts I'd like to share, but for now I wanted to say that when you juxtapose the unclear relationship with your Mom and pornography, something in me strongly relates.

Originally Posted By: learning2remember
I think, but I am not sure, that when I was in college I could enjoy these things more, on occasion. I probably felt some guilt, because somehow I grew up with a morality that said this was wrong. But I also grew up with a morality that said it was normal for men, especially young men, so I felt guilty but also knew it at least meant I was normal.

As I mentioned, up until a couple of years ago, I thought I had a fairly normal upbringing with regard to healthy attitudes about sex. These days I feel like I am coming out of a deep fog.

A therapist recently said to me that shame comes "before" guilt. It seems like a funny statement, but here is why I think it matters. For me, arousal can involve both emotions, but it is the shame that closes me down.

When I first read your post, my mind was distancing me from it. I wanted to say, oh it's all innocent. a voice in me apologized for all the experiences and tried to write it all off. I know this voice well. It is the one that has tried to protect me from seeing the bigger picture, connecting the dots, and feeling the feelings.

Originally Posted By: learning2remember

So I wish I were not aroused at all. Whatever it is in me that creates a market for that stuff, that is what led me to put up with Mom's behaviour.

A short while after reading your post, I had to once again painfully admit to myself that my Mother aroused me in ways I couldn't express. I had no way of calming myself down from them. This probably occurred from a very young age. I didn't want people to know. Mostly because of shame. That's why closing down the emotions happened and has continued until the present day.

It can be very difficult for me to find my true emotions and the man in me when I am feeling ashamed.

What your Mom did was done in the spirit of openness without full acknowledgment of other feelings and boundaries. My Mom's habitual response to me as a man happened similarly. What this did to me was to make true masculinity difficult to understand because it was imprisoned in feelings that could not be expressed or felt.

Originally Posted By: learning2remember

I wish I wasn't curious about the pictures. I wish that looking at them was not arousing. That curiosity and that interest is what made it so easy for Mom to manipulate me.

The guilty feelings were the ones that were manipulated in the spirit of openness. My mom was trying to get me to not feel guilty. She did this with other men too. I think it felt empowering to her. What she didn't realize was that there were other feelings going on. She didn't realize that men have them. I lived most of my life acting as if they didn't exist. I believed I was as sexually liberated from fear and shame as my Mom.

So confusing. I'm glad that I can finally get a handle here.

Going through the arousal states and talking myself through them with awareness is helping me. It will all take a while, but I'm in it for the long haul. For me.

Originally Posted By: learning2remember
Knowing these things, I look at images now and can't appreciate them. I hate what they say about me.

Being a survivor of unhealthy sexual boundaries, arousal can be confusing. But confusion is not something I want to hate myself about.

I've been manipulated my men who seemed to sense my hating myself as a man. These men seemed to not be ashamed about anything. They talked openly about porn. They also tried to make me think that hating myself as a man was healthy because of what men can do to women. This is another unhealthy dynamic.

I'm not going to do that hate. It's not worth it. When I hate myself as a man, I follow men who seem to know better but then make me feel even more lost. Everything gets worse.

Better to accept what has happened to me. This is where my true hatred of myself lies hidden and wants to be healed. I want to find each day the courage to face that which I want to avoid, even when it is extremely unpleasant. At least it's the truth.

I hope you can find your way to a greater appreciation of yourself. With or without the porn, you are a man worthy of love and respect from yourself and others.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.