I took a week or so off from blogging so I could finally finish this new novel. And I did! I have since spent the last two days editing and assembling it (I don’t write chapters in order. I know that’s really weird but… I don’t). In order to do this, I had to first read the entire two hundred and some odd novel. Let me just say that that was a traumatizing ordeal. When I write books, I don’t generally think about it–I just write whatever movie-like “scene” the characters are playing in my head and trust that it will all come together. This is easy to do since I do not write the chapters in order. I write what comes to me, when it comes to me. So, for instance, the first chapter was actually the eighth or ninth written and so forth. So it’s not until the thing is done and I have to go back and actually read it that I really get the full impact of the story. Normally, I’ve emotionally impacted because, by that time, I genuinely love the characters that have been hanging out in my head for a year or so. This time, however, I was emotionally put through a wringer. Every chapter was just stunningly heart-breaking. Every chapter had at least one line that absolutely paralyzed me. By the time I finished, my entire face held a gazillion tears, I was sniffling so much I might as well have been choking. I mean, really, it was rather ridiculous.
And it was all because of the “villain,” the “father.” Before you quit reading, unlike most of the male villains in my stories, this guy never sexually assaulted either of the two children. Thank God. Because, if he had of, I would have spent the rest of my life inventing a machine that would transport me into the pages just so that I could kill him. Or, better yet, I’d have had one of my two main protagonists kill him to me. Yep, I know it’s a fictional book–it still would have happened. He is not an okay fella. He pretty much destroys, or tries to, every other primary character in the book and he commits the most emotionally charged, heinous act ever that made me feel rather violent myself. Like I said…. Not a good guy.
And so began the journey in my mind of thinking about men in general.
I made a FaceBook post after reading the thing that commented on what a jerk this guy is. A friend replied: “Aren’t they all jerks?” Now, I don’t know if she was talking about all of my male characters, or if she was referring to the male population at large. Either way, first, I felt really sad. Really, really sad. Because, if she was referring to the male population at large, she had to have been given multiple reasons to view the male species cynically. Which made me think about my own life, and the males in it. Frankly, that just depressed me. Starting with my father, they just never have seemed to get me. I had a male math teacher that, by the end of the year, still did not know my name. I’ve been disappointed by men I’ve respected. I’ve been promised things, big things, that never happened. My heart has been well and truly broken. To be quite honest with you, I have ideas about men and few of them are very flattering. I like to believe that most of them are false; I tell myself that, underneath the cheerful smile, I really have troubling thoughts about men because of my issues with intimacy, and trust.
Ever played that game where you stand in front of someone, facing away from them, and tried to let yourself fall backwards, trusting that the person behind you will catch you? I have, and I almost always fail. Trust is my problem. But I have good reason to be distrustful. I mean, after all, all men really want is one thing, right, and whatever comes out of their mouths is really nothing but a ploy to get what they want. I view gifts with a highly distrustful nature because gifts usually come with a price. Maybe not a demanding one, maybe a calm, quiet one, but a price nonetheless. I’m supposed to think differently. I’m supposed to pay that price with joy in my heart and eagerness. This is where I always stop blaming men and start blaming myself instead, for not trusting. But am I the unreasonable one, or are they?
Statistics are on my side. While there are plenty of crazy, deranged and in-need-of-serious-help women, there are a lot more of those type of men. It’s just a fact. Mothers do terrible things to their children–but not as often as men do. Women rape. But not near as often as men. Men seem to have a wiring in their brains that can only be satisfied through some type of control or power. Passive men control through manipulation and games. Violent men, like the one in my book, do it with threats and assaults. What girl has never had a fairy tale dashed, along with her heart, by a man who just got bored, or who, for whatever reason, wasn’t happy or satisfied with what she had? I mean, I deliberately searched multiple news websites, trying to see how many bad men stories there were versus bad women. Do it yourself, and we’ll compare notes. Let’s just say, there were significantly more bad men stories. And no, all the writers of the articles were not women. I mean, if you want me to give you reasons to truly think unkind thoughts towards all members of the male species, I can easily and definitely do so. They give out plenty of reasons to distrust them.
But (the male readers who are getting hot under the collar can chill out now).
Something happened as I was getting ready to make a list of all the reasons are dreadful. I pushed my phone on. It was pulled up to my inbox at one account and staring me in the face was an email from a super special male I’d received some time ago. I don’t know what it was doing pulled up, but I read it. And, somehow, between the time I started reading and finished, all my anger had simply disappeared. Then Stackhouse came to mind. Then one of my uncles, the only one out of three who not only supported me, but defended me against hurtful relatives. Then Hoss, an old radio DJ who used to take my calls, and was always so nice to me. Then a seventh grade boy who, upon reading the letter I’d written to him, told his classmates he was going to frame it. Joey, my homeless angel, was a man. The stranger who changed my life by giving me hope simply by opening a door was a man. Indeed, all of the males I thought of had positively influenced my life. Not only that but,the longer I tried, the more positive males I thought of. And I remembered, again, that men aren’t necessary evils, they aren’t half bad. And it goes way beyond their hypnotizing faces. They possess things I don’t, things that have greatly influenced my life.
Strength is the first thing that comes to mind. It might be a bear hug or a gentle touch on the face, or maybe it’s something as simple as a long conversation, or a smile across a room. At times, maybe it’s physical; the feeling of being overwhelmed by sheer size: all of these things can offer a much needed gust of strength. Seemingly without even trying, they can lift me up. Stackhouse gave me a hug, and wrote me a letter and, just with that, he made me believe he really did care. That was a life changing epiphany. Others have spent valuable time trying to tell me that I’m beautiful and worthy. Gifts not given as often, or as effectively, by women.
Strength isn’t the only gift they have, though. Some have a sense of playfulness that is addicting and important its ability to encourage me, in all my seriousness, to break out a real smile, or to throw a pillow at his face just for fun. Fun. They can remind me to make time for it and, when I heed the advice, I’m rewarded by feeling refreshed and energized.
They have other, important gifts too. My pastor, for instance, makes me feel safe just by standing there. A few really special creatures have made me believe I’m not an obligation, or a burden, but that I’m worth time and attention. Some simply always make me feel better after seeing them. There’s also something very soothing and endearing about watching or listening to a man as he plays or talks about whatever it is that most fascinates him. I’ve also learned that, sometimes, what a man really wants is to simply be near me while everything else is secondary. They want to feel needed, just like I do. They want to feel special and important, just like we all do.
Maybe there are paths in a man’s brain that mine simply doesn’t have, maybe there are times when the strength can be used against me. And maybe I have had experiences that left me wounded and traumatized. Maybe I have. But to distrust all men because of what a few have chosen to do not only gives them additional power over my life but, more importantly, the walls that distrust builds robs me of extra doses of love, confidence, comfort and companionship that I might have access to, if I just consciously choose to greet each new face as a new friend. If I fail to trust others, I’m left alone, with no encouragement, with a confidence that grows heavy under the challenges of everyday life. If I simply categorize those who have been detrimental to my life as The Few, then I’m left with The Many that have actively countered every derogatory, painful or false thing ever done by The Few. If I trust in spite of all the pain, I come out healthier, happier and far more blessed.