Men Are People Too

Dear Readership,

Wowzers! Did I ever drop the ball on blogging over Christmas break. I’m sure you were heartbroken, but have no fear! I’m back.

I imagine you’re all tentatively scrolling with your trigger finger delicately posed on judgment blasters, just waiting for a post like this with a title like that to be political (maybe even a #metoo story). It’s not. Maybe it could be, but really it’s more of a writer’s block confession.

I have, for the past two or three weeks, been trying to write a post about my recent encounter with what I am 96.5% sure were alien lifeforms undercover at the world’s most perfect (i.e. too perfect) gas station. I have some pretty rock-solid evidence, but I guess it’s a post for another day because every time I sat down to write it, it was choked out by another story. My story?

I have always struggled with being comfortable around men. I mean, always. From neighbors to family friends, classmates to strangers, waiters to cashiers, even some of my own friends–they’ve all made me uncomfortable at one time or another. All through high-school my palms would sweat and my heart would race if my friend’s dads or brothers tried to converse with me. My freshman year I asked to please be placed on an all-girls floor (which didn’t happen). My sophomore year I had a panic attack every time I went to see my university assigned male therapist (no, the irony of that is not lost on me). And any time a male professor called on me I forgot how to string words into sentences (ask me about how I’ve made a total ass of myself every time my favorite professor has endeavored to speak to me. It’s a real cringer). Somewhere along the way though, it got better. And then somewhere in the last two months it got infinity worse again. I’m jumpy, paranoid, and unsocial. I have opted to stand in long grocery lines to avoid the open registers of male clerks, I’ve walked to class so I don’t have to say hi to the bus driver, and I’ve washed dishes at a party (more than once) so I didn’t have to mingle.

Do I know why I’ve relapsed? No, not really. Am I tired of being afraid? Very. Men are just people. Just half the people in existence. Half of the people in my life. People I have to talk to and interact with.

If I’m being honest, this post is more for me than you. I’m trying to figure it out too. I can trace different threads of potential triggers — going through periods of high strain on my relationship with my father, being in past relationships with guys who needed to be told ‘no’ before I realized I had the voice to say it, being objectified or grabbed by strangers, enduring belittling comments from men I didn’t have the energy to argue with, etc. etc. etc.. I guess those are all valid reasons to explain my anxiety, but they’re not new reasons and they don’t explain the last few months of renewed fear. They don’t explain why I can’t sleep; why I’ve been anxious; why I’m fearful about going outside at night; or why I’m perpetually afraid of being followed. Those are not normal things to feel, and yet they’re my norm. I do feel a little better after having it all written out, but I don’t feel any closer to understanding what’s going on or why.

Anyway, that’s me these days. That’s the reason I haven’t been writing. Every funny or clever thing I wanted to say has been dammed up behind  a whole big lump of fear that I don’t know how to deal with and can’t avoid. I was sort of hoping that if I went ahead and acknowledged my problem then my anxiety would politely tip its hat and amble on its merry way to ruin someone else’s creative energy. Fingers crossed that that’s still what happens and I’ll be back to writing soon. I guess we’ll see.

Until next time,