Friday, November 21, 2008

Men (the condensed story)

I like the idea of men. I like men in the abstract. I like one man in the present real time and see him often. But he has seen me marry and divorce, love and leave, and in the end isolate myself from the company of men. We're old friends and are likely to remain old friends so long as we never try to live together.

I am heterosexual, though I have wished I weren't at times. Sadly, I can attest to the fact that sexual identity is not a choice, or I would be a lesbian. I gave it a try, and it isn't for me. Too bad, because I can't seen to find a man that I can actually live with. I must confess that the fault could be mine and not the men I've known, since I am a "difficult" woman. More on that later.

I have tried, god knows, I've tried to make it work with not just one, but three husbands, several relatively short term lovers, and even one very very long term lover. And when I leave them, as I have done, sometimes more than once, and in one case over and over, I know that it isn't really that there is something intrinsically wrong with the man I'm leaving, but that the relationship (not necessarily the man) doesn't give me what I need. Which brings up one question. What do I need? What did I want from a particular man that I wasn't getting? And the answers aren't easy to find. But my past, my long distant past, holds clues to that answer. If you've read my novel or any of the older stories you probably could answer that question for me, because all the clues are there.

So let me try to start at the beginning with a list.
1. My biological father had no use for me and made it clear to me that I was in the way. He did not leave us, but once my mother made a run for it, I never heard from him again.

2. My three much older brothers left home one at a time and never really looked back. I don't blame them at all. Given their age and gender, I too would have left and never looked back.

3. My second father, the one who adopted me and was my "real" parent for a year, then started sexually abusing me and kept at it for five years, told me I was too old for him when I turned eleven and started menstruating. You can imagine my confusion.

4. My mother was a narcissistic bitch who was from day one in competition for attention with her only child. And so, a very bad role model for what it is to be a woman.

5. I was very pretty. (there is no good or bad about that on its face, but with the other deficits of my family's collective psychosis turned out to be a very bad thing for the sensitive person I was to become) Too pretty for anyone to see much beyond the prettiness and see the person inside. I know very few people, men or women, who would feel sorry for a woman who was as pretty as I was, since envy and the comfort of dismissal make empathy impossible for the envious.

That's a pretty good start. So I begin with abandonment, then shift to abuse and then abandonment again where the significant men in my early life were concerned. Add to that the angry, competitive, hostile mother, and you have the making of a woman unable to bond or trust. So, I might be capable of loving, but never able to fully trust. I always believed that any man I loved would leave me (the early imprint) and so I left first. It was the only way I knew to avoid abandonment. Really very easy to understand laid out like that (like a patient etherized upon the table). So I do not dare to eat a peach. Unless alone, that is.

There is more on this subject. But not today. Today I am vacuuming.


Linda Sama said...

you're preaching to the choir, honey

Beach Bum said...

Whats strange in this for me is that after reading several chapters of "Maggy" and some of your short stories I came to see a lot of similarities between your mom and mine. Much of her life was spent trying to convince someone, anyone really, that she should be the center of all attention. For years my siblings and I gave her all the attention that her alcoholic mind could want until I left to live with my grandparents and my sibling later developed their own lives.
The aftermath in all this? Well, if you read my posts its easy to figure my relationship with my wife is strained at best with only duty to my children keeping me home. My brother who I call the "Pastor" is relatively happy but his wife won't let him walk out the house without permission. My other brother "Joe Cool" lives a relatively carefree life with his second wife but thankfully never had children since the least little bit of relationship stress freaks him out. The first time a hypothetical kid of his broke something my brother would lose his mind, and no he doesn't babysit for his nephews of nieces. My sister got the worst deal, our dad went AWOL and with mom not stable she endured the worst of her personality defects. So much so that she hooked up with a redneck that got her pregnant twice, used her for a punching bag then hauled ass after a few years. My sister kept the abuse secret until he left.

There was a movie a few years back that had Keanu Reeves telling about his messed up parents. In conclusion after his story he told the other person the scene that they make people take a test to drive a car but let anyone bring a kid into the world.

As far as "men" are concerned, we are full fledged pigs and I tell my daughter that everyday. I use to, and sometimes still do, worry what some punk could do to her but lately seeing her relate to other kids her age especially boys I'm worrying about it less. She has boys doing her bidding already.

Beach Bum said...

Working on the meme, will have ready late Saturday or Sunday.

Utah Savage said...

Honey, if you knew how long I've put off vacuuming you wouldn't worry about any timeline with me. I want to get over to your place to read the latest story and I know it's been up a few days since I tagged you there. I'll be back. And don't worry about the music meme unless you're just looking forward to it. I over did it. Having lately learned to embed, I am practicing it over much.

Anonymous said...

This kind of reflection makes a great story in itself. I know you use this in your other writing, but sometimes, isn't it freeing to just lay it out there, in bullet point fashion?

Liberality said...

am I reading my own diary here? sure seems like it--except I found someone as damaged as I and we have clung together through thick and thin. we also went to therapy separately and together to try to get our heads on straight. I value loyalty above all from friends and family.

Utah Savage said...

Yes, I ask myself the question and then try to answer it. It is a pretty good form of therapy, it clears my head a bit. Fl/LL still calls now and then. Oh we love each other, but more like fond siblings I think. We could never live together again. And if I were he, I would never trust me to commit to staying together, since I left him at least 20 times if not more. Who counts after the first five or so? And he grew less forgiving with each abandonment. I don't blame him. But ours is a relationship that bears examining. It was passionate and it was fun until it was torment. Then I would run. And I was never very good at asking for what I wanted. I had so little faith it would ever be granted.

Freida Bee said...

I'm trying to think of what to write here in response to this very simple, but moving piece. Everything I want to write is far too personal for comments, which is ironic since I write so many revealing things in my blog. Suffice it to say, you are still very beautiful in so many ways.

Gail said...

Hi Utah-
Your ability to tell "your truth" with such a creative flare is truly a gift. I, like you, understand how and why I am who I am. And I think that is a good thing, a good thing indeed.
Knowledge is Power"


Randal Graves said...

What FB said, though not exactly. Same ballpark I guess.

Pagan Sphinx said...

What a great post in that it brings up so, so much about how people can screw with you and leave you blind-sighted. And it touches virtually everyone in some way: abuse; be it of sex, emotion, psyche or physical pain.

There was a suicide on my partners side of the family only two years ago that really flattened a couple of his family members.

Thank you, Utah.

Comrade Kevin said...

What stands out most to me out of all that you've said is your admission of beauty. I found it difficult to find women who were both physically attractive and intelligent and maybe it's more of a Deep South thing. In other parts of the country versatility is an option---the cheerleader can also be class president, for example.

And I think part of it too is that deep inside myself I am still a very lonely teenager with no confidence who assumed off hand that no woman would ever love him so better to assume the worst than brave the best.

MadMike said...

Curiously Utah I have had similar experiences, except of course, with women:-) I have been told I make a great friend, companion, lover and etc. but a lousy husband. I was never sure what that meant but the messenger remains my friend to this day and I took her at her word, remaining single, at present, and from time to time, historically speaking. I really enjoyed this read and am glad I decided to visit. Peace....

an average patriot said...

What a sordid tale but I know what you need, long fingers and understanding TLC! by the way I wonder who if anyone ever experienced that Beaver Cleaver life?

Naj said...

What a strange coincidence! Today, as I was taking a shower, I was thinking of the title of my post "I love men"!

I discouraged myself; since my blogs is such a 'conservatively asexual' one (although it looks 'feminist') ... but I was more thinking of men's vulnerability, their simplicity, their loyalty, their naivitee, their foolish trust in thinking that we, 'women' love them; and the very natural fact that we, as female species do, only utilize them! No wonder they have rebelled against us; have suppressed us; the first chance that they got: i.e when they went to war to 'protect' us and our agricultural goods!

I have never had any bad encounter with any man, no one has ever left me, or abused me, and I am not pretty, yet I feel exactly the same way you do; and in fact act in the same way too. Of course i no longer leave, but just do not commit; holding the levers of control, psychopathically ...

We are taught that we are 'victims', legacy of feminism ... but we are not ... we are just cunning, complex, incomprehensible, and too complicated for little sweet simple men to really understand. I feel for all men ... and they make far better friends for me :)

Utah Savage said...

I am becoming completely invisible in my cronedom. I went shopping at my favorite thrift store recently and realized that I only look at neutrals clothing now. I love this invisibility. I'm free now to look, to make eye contact, to smile and know that it will not be misinterpreted as a come-on.

Naj, I love you observations. So glad you stopped to comment. I miss your fierce intelligence.

Lib, I imagine there might have been a mate for me my ability to trust was shot. It just wasn't in the cards. I'm glad you had the courage to have a family and work through your challenges with your mate. I realize my choices to leave were mine entirely. I was the one unwilling to be honest enough to work things out. Trust was always the sticking point. Betrayed too early and too often to ever ever have trust "take" (as in stick) again. Like walking the razors edge without a net always. Much to dramatic to sustain forever. Living alone is such a relief. Now I only worry that my renters will leave me and I will have to find someone else to rent the house. I love Melea. But like a daughter she will move on one of these days. As for the guy. Well he's a guy--basically lazy unless pressed. Lists of chores and his assignment must be make and even then he must be nagged a bit. But he hasn't been late with rent and he's basically a nice guy.

Mike, glad to see you here. I've missed you. I see you at Vig's and remember fondly once offering you a cyber BJ for something. Good to know that men can understand this. Hear it about yourself and recognize it as the truth. Then make sure you don't keep doing it over and over. Better a good friend than miserable mate.

James. I'm going to write another post about what I liked most about men and their hands and why. Just so there is no misunderstanding about the hand thing. Long fingers? Not unless they are dexterous, competent, capable, and tenderly strong and confident. It's not the size or length, as we often say while rolling our eyes.

an average patriot said...

Right on Utah you got it, I will shut up! Bells on my toes!

susan said...

You do indeed write about some tough subjects, Utah, and I really appreciate your clarity on subjects that most of us avoid discussing in public forums. Am I shy? No, just British but I'm trying to break the lifelong habit of complete reticence. You are an inspiration and a very talented observer.

Utah Savage said...

James, bells on your toes? What a sweet expression.

Susan, does my content keep you away? Because I like your voice as much as I like my own.

an average patriot said...

Thanks Utah
I have to laugh! It is anxiously awaiting! I was laughing knowing you wondering what you might make out of it! Take care!

BBC said...

Which brings up one question. What do I need?

My best guess is that you want more than a man can give you because you wanted too much.

That and you don't leave your baggage on the curb when you walk off to explore a new path with a man.

It used to be that a woman would seek out a man that could provide a home, but now they seek riches and castles, and it's hard for all men to provide that.

Hell, at least I have my own place free and clear now that I'm not trying to pay for more than what modern women want.

I'll never go in debt for another woman again, they can make their own way, or not.

anita said...

BBC said: "you wanted too much"

Sorry, Utah, but I must respond to this comment.

BBC, what is TOO MUCH, anyway? from what I gather in Utah's post is that she wasn't asking for a whole lot, in fact, it seems she was being offered more than she was asking for but feared the commitment, feared the level of trust required to actually RECEIVE the love that was being offered. she had been betrayed so often that she had to walk away for fear of more emotional lacerations.

my sense is she wasn't looking for "riches" or "support" or anything of the sort. she was, and is, an independent strong woman who needed/needs mostly to be understood and cared for.

is that TOO MUCH to ask for?

Oh. Sometimes I get really mad.

Sorry, Utah. I'll head back to my cave now and not interfere in your blog.

Utah Savage said...

BBC is a harmless old troll who almost always gets it wrong. I usually ignore him. If he leaves it at one inappropriate comment I let him stay. If he comments twice I delete his most offensive comment.

But you, Anita, are always welcome to bitch slap anyone who needs it. I always look forward to a comment from or a conversation with you. I couldn't be happier that you are back. And clearly you get it. BBC is running in his own strange and limited hamster wheel, mistaking all women for one woman. And probably never understanding or even wanting to understand a complicated woman.

I once asked FL/LL why he stuck with it when I was so very crazy. His answer was "It was a challenge. It was never boring." At least there's that.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

UTAH: (and every woman here) It occurs to me every now and then that I'm 47 and I can count the number of women I've met or spoken to or written to in my life who WERE NOT sexually abused as girls.

The many times this has been admitted to me under vow of secrecy, I've found myself saying "I don't know if this will make you feel better or worse but in my experience you are in the VAST majority of your gender having experienced that mess."

Sorry for being maudlin, Utah. You know why.

Utah Savage said...

Kelso, you are right about the vast numbers of us. Since I talk so openly about my life, many women who visit my site admit that it is also their history I'm talking about.

I've missed you. Glad you're still around. And thanks for the kindness. There was a Johnney Ray song that was popular with I was a child, called, "Try a Little Tenderness." I haven't thought of it in years, but this bit of tenderness on your part brought the child and the song vividly to mind. Thanks.

Utah Savage said...

Well I'm wrong again. The Johnny Ray song was The Little White Cloud That Cried, altogether different in time and tone from the late great Ottis Redding and his hit Try a Little Tenderness. And Ottis Redding died tragically in a plane crash.

susan said...

I'm loathe to have you think I avoid dropping by for any reason. The truth is more along the lines of how much time I can devote to being on line at all. I still have a 40 hour a week job, am chronically addicted to reading 8-10 books a month plus 20-50 pages daily of internet news and editorials and that leaves out the time I have to spend with my real life work (the job is rent, food etc.) which is the painting and drawing.

In the past year plus I've added the blog and then a second where I've been attempting to write and illustrate some of the more entertaining stories. At first it was very easy but since I'm neither a natural nor a trained writer I've been wrestling with how (or whether) to deal with some of the darker aspects of my own experience. How does one draw a picture of the evening when I bought ice cream cones for my dad and me and rather than walk the hundred yards home, instead accepted a ride with a known dangerous character? There I was a 14 year old girl sitting in a car 2 miles from home on a deserted country road trying to convince a guy just out of prison not to rape me while ice cream dripped over both my hands.

We're much more than the sum of our experiences but it takes true talent and the willingness to dig deeply into our own motivations to describe our lives well enough to touch hearts and find commonality. You do this very well but as you know there are some writers who require more time both to read and to understand. An unconsidered life is not worth sharing.

There'll be a new Adventure soon - I've spent the last week drawing it but in the meanwhile I did leave you an award at phanstsy a few days ago.