Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eternal Frustration - Body Shame

This post is a difficult one to write.  First, I want to give a disclaimer on this post.  Some of things I will share will be very emotionally charged for me.  They may even trigger strong emotional reactions in you as well.  Please, take care of yourself.  If it's too much for you, please stop reading and find a trusted person to talk with, go exercise, or do something to help yourself process it.

Again, this is difficult for me to write about this.  The thing I am about to share is very personal.  I am afraid of how this information will be used.  I have a fear that this information could be used to exploit me or to take advantage of me somehow.  I also fear that men who read this, and know me personally, will withdraw because they may think I'm attracted to them.  I'm also afraid those will start asking me if I am attracted to them.  I've thought of writing this post many times, but today seems like the day to do it.  At this point, I'm glad that this blog is still under an anonymous name, although that could change in the future.

Today, I want to write about something that has been a large frustration for me in my life, at least ever since I remember being an adult.  The worse part about it, is that I largely can not do anything about it.  Hence, why I call it the 'Eternal Frustration'.

The issue is body image.  It relates to how I look at my body, all aspects of it.  At least since Junior High school, I remember looking at the other guys in my gym class and comparing myself to them.  I've struggled with a perception that my body isn't masculine or that it isn't a mans body.  Sometimes I feel like I've been eternally trapped in a boys body, even though I am an adult.  I've felt physically inferior often to the men around me.

I've worked on my body shame.  I've done some pretty deep work and processing.  Yet, it still keeps coming back.  I guess no matter how much work I do, my body still won't look like what I think an 'ideal' male body should look like.  I can change how I think about things, but the moment I begin to compare myself to other men, the old idea of my body being 'unmasculine' will resurface.  That comes along with a sense of inadequacy and inferiority.  With those, comes along feelings of attraction toward men I feel have more masculine bodies.

To step deeper in the realm of fear, I want to speak of different areas of the body.  I could feel inadequate in these areas, or they could be areas I notice about other men.  Again, take a look at the disclaimer at the beginning of this post.  This will be brutally honest.  Some things may come across as being vague, mostly because attraction, for me, doesn't always follow an exact pattern.

One of the first things that I notice about another man is usually his overall size and body shape.  I'm not a big man myself by any stretch of the imagination.  I have a small frame.  I'm of average height.  I am not muscle bound or overweight in any way.  I've found when another man is taller, bigger than me, or has broader shoulders than me, there is a possibility that I'm going to be attracted to the man.  I've discovered that this sometimes shows up when I'm subconsciously trying to find a father figure or a protector.  Because I've always struggled to connect to my father, I find myself attracted to men that seem to fit my idea of the father I want.

If for some reason I judge another man as being strong, I can feel attracted to him as well.  I've found from helping people to move, or in other situations, that I can't quite bring the same strength to bear that other men can.  This leads me to feeling inferior or inadequate as a man.  I've noticed that I also try to appease or befriend men that I perceive are strong.  One reason for that is that I want to feel safe with them, because otherwise they would be dangerous.  Another reasons is so that they can keep me safe, because I judge that I can't defend myself, or keep myself safe.  It's an extension of my desire to find a 'father figure' or protector of sorts.

Something that I don't always notice, is the size of men's hands.  I judge that I have small hands, that my hands aren't masculine and that they are boyish.  I also judge that my hands are weak, and that they don't have as much strength as another man.  When a man has bigger hands, I judge that his are more masculine or more powerful than mine.

Now to speak on things that feel even more charged and scary for me.  It's something that seems to come into play pretty often.  I find myself drawn to men that I judge have big, masculine, or powerful chests.  Honestly, it's an area that I feel very inadequate in.  I am somewhat of a late bloomer, so I didn't have very much muscle in general until I was in my 20's.  By then, I always found myself admiring any man that had any kind of definition in their chest area.  I judge that to be something very masculine, and something that I lack.  I feel myself drawn to men like that.  This same thing also applies less frequently to another man's arms, and even more rarely to another man's legs.

Related to a previous post, I feel drawn to men who have chest hair.  I feel like I don't have much, or more accurately, I feel like I don't have enough.  This extends to body hair in other places like my stomach or my arms.  I judge that I either don't have enough, or that I don't have the right kind, or etc.  Hence, I have a draw to men I judge have 'enough' or more than me.

My area of deepest shame is around my penis, or more specifically its size.  Personally, I feel I've done some work around this.  This area of the body seems to symbolize for me manhood and masculinity.  It feels like the crux of everything it is to be a man.  I honestly do feel ashamed about it, and I even feel ashamed that I feel ashamed about it.  I try to push it so far out of sight that it's not the first thing I think about when I consider my body shame, although it definitely is one of the more important points for me.

Body shame has been a tricky beast to tackle for me.  I've tried working out or doing specific work and processing around it to change how I think about myself and my body.  I've found that ridding myself of it completely has been tricky.  It always seems to come back.  I find myself slipping back into comparing myself to other men.  Hence, I call this the 'Eternal Frustration'.  No matter how many weights I lift, I'll never be able to grow another few inches, never be able to have giant pecs, or never be able to have arms as big around as some men's legs.  I believe my challenge is learning to accept what I've been given, even though I may admire what another man has.

Easier said than done.  Always easier said than done.

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