I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Irrational Comparison

(This encore post comes from John Joseph.)

Many men never graduate from the eighth grade. That's usually the year competition begins in earnest between boys, especially in the locker room. We're discovering our bodies in new ways; puberty is raging, and the comparisons of everything from push-ups to penises set the hierarchy in the schoolyard.

I was never going to be the alpha male, of course, and bore the brunt of ridicule for being smaller, uncoordinated, un-athletic, and downright sissy. Eighth grade was hell.

The unfortunate thing for me as a survivor of childhood sexual trauma is that my abusers were like the bigger boys at school. I couldn't measure up to them in any way.

That sick comparison has stuck with me throughout life and has made me miserable. I've constantly compared myself to other men and always come up wanting. My comparisons aren't ever accurate, but the result is always the same: I can never be as good, as strong, as muscular, as sexy, or as secure as any other man I encounter. They always win.

The only way I’ve found to counteract such an irrational comparison is to recognize that, at its root, it's nothing but envy. I want to be as big, strong, muscular, successful, and handsome as they are.

Forgetting the fact that I just may be similar to them in many ways, envy blinds me to my good qualities I may have, and causes unwanted anxiety and depression.

My body works just fine, no matter how big or small it is. To want what someone else has is a sin against myself and even my own body. To recover means to be thankful for who I am and for what I have, even if I still can’t do many push-ups.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, John B here. I have exactly the same "problem". I just wrote the following email to Cec:

I can't remember ever feeling adequate, masculine, capable sexually, or attractive.

I did a lot of journaling the other day. I was at a resort in Las Vegas for work, and was trying to be aware of how my body felt and of the thoughts that were going thru my mind (suggested by my therapist). I realized something.

I compare myself to everyone. At least that was my initial thought. Every time I saw a male, I would immediately think "this man is better than me in the following ways...." Every time I saw a female I would think "this woman is better than me and would not be attracted to me for the following reasons...."

I was painting a rather dreary picture for myself, which happened to reinforce my opinion of myself generated so long ago: I'm not adequate, masculine, capable sexually, or attractive.

I then had a really interesting realization. I only make this comparison when I KNOW I'll lose. If I see a male who I believe I would compare favorably to, in the completely bogus categories that my head thinks is a priority, I do not run this comparison. It never crosses my mind. Likewise, if I see a female who I am not initially interested in (based on physical appearance), I do not run this comparison.

Not only does my subconscious set me up to fail, it also makes sure that I never receive any evidence whatsoever that I could succeed! My self esteem and general world view is arranged entirely around a comparative process.

How can I ever be comfortable with ME when all I do is compare myself to others??