Let’s start with a disclaimer, shall we? Let’s shall!
I am about to grotesquely generalize. Specifically I will be generalizing men, but I’ll probably lump a few of us xx-chromosomes in there for good measure. If you are an exception to my blatant laziness and refusal to do any form of fact-based reporting to support my opinions, you are actually welcome to leave a message. I’d like it to be kind, that makes it easier to learn from, but please note I am aware and saying right up front that when I say, “guys,” I mean, “The guys to whom this applies.” If it does not apply to you, well then good on ya. Also, let me go on record as stating my intention is not to label or judge men. My intention is to impart a little lesson that made MY life easier when dealing with men, so hopefully it might do the same for my sisters.
There. Hope the lawyers amongst you are satisfied.
DID YOU KNOW GUYS HAVE ISSUES TOO????!
This is astounding to me. I really thought we cornered the market on “issues”. I mean, come on. We have PMS, for fuck’s sake! It’s, like, practically sanctioned to be irrationally moody and hyper-emotional at least once a month. We are the sensitive sex. The emotional ones. We are the soft, squishy sponges who soak up feelings like grape juice on the counter and leak them out all over the porcelain sink of life. Dudes? If you can’t eat it or fuck it, why do they care?
Uh… yeah. Apparently that’s an inappropriate assumption. They have feelings!!!!!
My “thing” is abandonment. It paralyzes me. Aside from harming my child, the worst thing you can do to me is walk away during a fight. When I feel abandoned I cease being able to function in a rational manner and become a three-year old child lost in the woods, watching the sun go down and waiting for the wolves to come get me. I KNOW it doesn’t make sense. I am, by all accounts, perfectly capable of keeping myself sustained and breathing. Chances are I probably won’t die because my boyfriend won’t pick up the phone for three days. But it sure as hell feels like it.
A lot of women have abandonment as a “thing”. It’s pretty common, actually. And, because dudes don’t seem to, we neglect to realize that there might be another thing that’s their “thing”.
A dear friend of mine who identified as a lesbian for her whole life found herself in love with a man. (YOU ARE NOT WELCOME TO COMMENT ON THIS. Your own personal reaction to that statement is of no interest to me whatsoever. I support this individual, I love this individual, and I will not see her life used to further an agenda on either side of the fence.) They were experiencing some difficulty at one point, and we talked about it.
“I don’t know why he’s so angry,” she said. “It’s my problem.”
I answered, “Yeah, but he can’t fix it.”
“So? He doesn’t have to fix it. But he told me I shouldn’t even be upset about it.”
“Because he can’t fix it.”
“He’s mad because he can’t DO anything,” I explained.
“Well, he could listen,” she offered.
“Honey, he’s a man. This is what they do. If their woman has a problem, it’s their job to fix it. If they can’t, then the fucking problem should not exist any more.”
“Wow. Lesbians just ‘process’ everything. Not much gets done, but at least somebody listens to me.”
So, obviously, the person having the experience here is the woman. She has needs for validation and affirmation that simply listening would provide. He’s just being a neanderthal.
Or… Or…. OR… he’s experiencing something too!
One of my two best friends on this planet is married to a man who is wise and wonderful and works as a facilitator for men’s group therapy. I was talking, (ie “venting”) about someone once and he said, “Oh. He has shame issues.” That stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Shame. It’s very common for men. It’s paralyzing for a lot of us.”
I’ve always assumed guys who become idiots when they are mocked or make mistakes or can’t find a solution to a problem are just not trying to keep their big-boy pants on hard enough. I mean, I get shamed a dozen times a day. I have various reactions to it, but none of them constitute a radioactive meltdown. My friend’s husband continued.
“Men react to shame the same way a lot of women react to abandonment.”
Oh well fuck.
I remember discussing with one of my favorite male recovering alcoholics about men’s fear of women. His hypothesis was that male aggression stemmed from fear. I couldn’t imagine what they had to fear from us, but he said, “Failure.” That’s shame right there, that is.
The same way we, as little girls, (and often older girls), believe that if he REALLY loves us, he’d just know…. guess what? They think so too! Imagine how fucking frustrating that could be, knowing that it’s actually your JOB to have a solution but you’re a day late and you’ve misplaced the manual that was written in Mandarin anyway and oh by the way it calls for AAA batteries and you only have C. Is someone you love sad? That means one thing and one thing only: YOU ARE A GIANT FUCK UP OF A FAILURE AND NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU!
Wow. That sucks.
So, ladies, just for today, let’s give our guys some breaks. Instead of seeing an insensitive boor or an angry behemoth, (assuming you are safe. This is talking about just fiddly day-to-day details here, not spousal abuse. That demands help. Get it.) see a little boy standing on the school yard with a stain on his pants trying not to cry as everyone points and laughs at him. Tell him he’s doing a good job. Tell him you appreciate and admire his strength and that, if there WAS a solution, you know he’d be able to find it in a heartbeat. And, for God’s sake, don’t chastise him for not being someone else if you want him to function. Especially if you love him.
Because, see, when I try that…. the guy who needed to walk away from me always comes back.