Elisabeth Corey has every reason to see men as evil. But there is one reason she doesn’t.
Of all the Hallmark holidays, Father’s Day is my least favorite. I have never had a problem with Valentine’s Day, because being single is my choice. I have never had a problem with Mother’s Day, because I am a mother. I have always been able to make that day a celebration of me.
My difficulty with Father’s Day comes from the fact that my father was physically, sexually and emotionally abusive, and he sold me to others for sex as a child. In fact, he wasn’t really a father. He was a pimp. The dysfunctional relationship with my father led to dysfunctional intimate relationships in my adult life. I found myself attempting to relate to narcissistic and abusive partners on a frequent basis. Based on my past, most might think that I have a dislike for all men. Sometimes, that is the result of severe sexual violence. Women who are sexually abused by their fathers can choose to blame the entire male population. I don’t judge them for that.
I am not one of those women. I have not had a successful intimate relationship at this point in my life, but I do have male friends, and they are pretty nice guys. I see them as husbands and fathers, and they are doing a great job. However, my ability to view men as good people comes from another relationship. I have a son.
I can say without a doubt that men are not inherently evil because I know my son. I see all men differently, because I can see him.
I see him struggle to express his fear about finding his place in this scary world. I see him trying to work it all out in his head. I see him trying to control something—anything—because it makes him feel safe…not because of some kind of power he wants to have. Someday, someone is going to tell him that having power will make everything better, but it won’t be me.
I see him struggle with society’s norms. He is not allowed to like pink or purple because he is a boy. He is not allowed to cry because he is a boy. He is not allowed to have his feelings hurt by his friends because he is a boy. Right now, he still cries. Someday, someone is going to tell him not to cry because he is a boy, but it won’t be me.
I see him give love so unconditionally that it scares me. He has never met a stranger. He gives me hugs and tells me he loves me all day long. He loves connecting with other people on a deep level. He wants to be loved, and he wants to love. Someday, someone will tell him that boys don’t show love so openly, but it won’t be me.
I can only imagine the difficulty that men have trying to conform to society’s expectations when it goes against their human nature. I see my son trying to reconcile it and it is almost tragic. I guess that some men are not able to conform to the external demands and stay healthy on the inside. I am not making excuses for men who choose to victimize others, but I am saying that I see how some could have veered off track.
I don’t know where my recovery journey will take me. Even though it is something I want, I don’t know if I will be able to trust enough to have a healthy intimate relationship. However, the relationship with my son has taught me that there is innocence in men. I know it because I see it.
photo: michale / flickr