I need to get this out of my head (before I forget.) Forgive me if what I’m about to share upsets. I spent years of my life overcoming an irrational fear of men. (It resulted from being raped by a male soldier while serving in the Army.) It also (weirdly) led to me becoming a super-soldier for a year. Then reality caught up to me. I’m still in awe of what I accomplished during that year. (Even though being a human-robot is often synonymous with being an excellent soldier.) 🤭
Suddenly, all men became predators who would hurt me if I ever let my guard down. I was too ready to burst into a tornado of violence or flee like the wind at the first hint of danger. People who typically would have been like brothers made me tremble if they merely noticed me. I could reason that my feelings were ridic intellectually, but it did not affect my fear. Worse, I didn’t realize I was physically reacting to the men I encountered as if I was steeling myself for an inevitable attack. Eventually, I figured out why men kept giving me the stink eye. They were offended (and rightly so.)
I had to train myself to stop, and it took time. It was horrible to be terrified of nearly half the world while knowing it was due to the actions of one. I hate being irrational against my will. Thank you, dear universe, for gay men (who were immune.) It helped tremendously to spend time with them and allow myself space to reclaim my sense of safety. Eventually, I stopped behaving like I was anticipating ambush all the time. (It was exhausting.)
Also, thinking that way made me incredibly paranoid. At one point, I had to pause life and figure out how to stop negotiating the world like a win-or-die game of chess (that only I was playing.) I even created a crappy video game to encourage myself, instead, to anticipate joy whenever I entered a room or went around a corner. The graphics were so poor they were funny. (Parody is a fabulous copyright loophole when creating while depressed. Especially for people ((like me)) who love comedy but lack the gift.) 🤫
I was seriously worried I was losing my grip on reality, though. Then I realized I was imagining the worst-case scenario and behaving as if it were the reality (like there was a prize), followed by wondering why I was sofa king anxious. 🤪 Eminem had a positive influence on my reclaiming safety among men. So did Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter. From there, I was able to pinpoint what about them was helping me heal. It turned out to be their willingness to be vulnerable publicly as a man.
The more instances of witnessing men sharing their feelings and perspective, the more I healed. (Hello, Will Smith obsession.) 🥰 But the man who had the most significant healing effect by far is Chaz Bono. The documentary, Becoming Chaz, helped me to understand important distinctions between men and women from both perspectives. It helped that it was from a source I valued since childhood (when allowed to watch Sonny and Cher only when their kids were on.) The information presented in the doc is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Hopefully, what I learned can help provide a healing shortcut for others who struggle with something similar. 💜✌🏽