Gay Men and Physical Boundaries With Women

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As I’ve mentioned before, I have a buddy with whom I’m working through a workbook that is about finding and discarding the causes of compulsive underearning. To review, underearing is characterized by, among other things, working to exhaustion while giving away or undervaluing our time and talent even to include asking for less than what the market will bear for our level of skill and talent. Underearners aren’t lazy, they’re people with invisible barriers. (That’s not to say there aren’t lazy people in the world, I just don’t happen to be one of them.) So the purpose of this workbook is to help me move forward into a higher and better way of approaching my career goals as well as other life goals– and it’s working– slowly, but it’s working.

Per the recommendation of an action team I put together to talk about career issues, I have gone back to therapy at the Vets Center to continue learning how to live in a better relationship to Post Traumatic Stress. The reason it came up in a career meeting was because when it comes down to it, when the metal meets the road and it’s time for me to do some simple, actionable, and measurable action toward one of my goals, the thing that sometimes stops me in my tracks in the arbitrary, unexpected appearance of at least one in the constellation of symptoms the DSM-V calls PTSD. I want to be able to continue to add to my toolbox so when it’s time for me to sit down to write, or mail a script, or call a producer– perhaps I will get to a point where it doesn’t feel like someone is on a rooftop aiming at my head.

The point, of course, with all this work is long-term change. I know that all these neuroses (yes, neuroses) didn’t get installed overnight and so they are likely not going to all be extracted overnight. For that reason, I’ve been willing to just “chop wood, carry water” and not check my emotional temperature every five steps or do too much assessing of my progress. But yesterday I had an example of how some positive changes are taking place.

Women like me. Women have always liked me. I’ve had some really great friendships with women over the years and I like to consider myself an ally to women in their collective overcoming of the negative effects of discrimination and oppression. If I’d read more feminist literature, I’d probably even consider myself a feminist.

Some of the women who are drawn to me have been hurt by men, sometimes very badly in ways that have to do with sex and/or romantic relationship. My theory is that these women crave the company of man and all the positive things that might offer but are so traumatized around the other parts, they needed to seek out a man they knew would never hit on them or try to sleep with them. (Besides all that, I’m a helluva nice guy.) There can be some negative things that go down around these friendships too.

Sometimes the women are too physically familiar with me. They assume, I reckon, that because I’m gay, it doesn’t matter if they hang all over me or touch me in what I would only describe as quasi-sexual. Because there were a lot of instances in my early life where there were faulty or absent physical and emotional boundaries with women, some limiting paradigms got established.

In the workbook, my friend and I have come to a section that asks questions about some early life situations that might have set us up for underearning later on. These are questions about sex. Some people might think of this process as “scab picking.” These people have no place in my life. A more accurate metaphor is that some of us were wounded along the way and there is toxic shrapnel buried deep inside that must come out if the body is to function in a healthy way. If the shrapnel stays in, we’re going to stay sick. So of late we’ve been uncovering and looking at some of the situations that lead me to be afraid to speak up and established clear boundaries with women. Usually, when I woman is touching me in a way that makes me uncomfortable, I just keep my mouth shut, putting her needs before mine. This is not good. It leads me to a place of frustration and helplessness that feels exactly like when I come up against one of those invisible barriers that gets in the way of my earning what I’m worth. But as I said, we’ve been doing the work to get rid of all this limiting bullshit so I can have the life God wants for me.

Yesterday, I was riding in the car with a friend of mine who happens to be female. We had gone through a drive through and planned to eat in the car. I was driving. She took a couple of napkins and shoved them in my lap– like really close to my dick. It made me uncomfortable but I said nothing. I had a bag in the floorboard in front of me I’d been putting trash in. In a few minutes she reached between my legs and grabbed the bag to put her trash in it. That made me uncomfortable but again I said nothing. Then, when she reached between my legs again to put the bag back in the floor, I just grabbed the bag. “Oh, do you not want the bag back down there?” “No, I want you to stop reaching between my legs, it makes me feel uncomfortable!” Wow, who said that?? I could hardly believe it was my own voice I heard say it. It is very unlike me to stand firm and establish boundaries when women take liberties. It’s my body and I am in charge of who gets to touch it and how they get to touch it.

Like I said, I’m doing this work for a long-term benefit without expecting too much too fast. But it was very nice to see that it’s already paying off and I’m proud of myself for the progress I’ve made.

See y’all tomorrow.


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