This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

I was raised in a deep dark hole,

A prisoner with no parole.

They locked me up and took my soul.

Shame though what they've done...

I was born not a child of love. I don't know much, but from what I've gathered, my father was forced to marry my mother or face some sort of punishment, presumably moral. My guess immediately fell on getting her pregnant when I first heard about it; if that's true, it wasn't me about to be born: the numbers don't add up.

Either way, I was born not a child of love. I don't remember much of my childhood: in all of its length, barring a few select moments, I try to forget it the best I can. Some memories, however, stay with me, whether I like it or not. I remember being praised for the slightest things I didn't believe I've achieved - but also being pointed out that the "neighbours' kid" was so much better than me that I was left to wonder why my parents haven't adopted them yet; "them" being one of the kids I hung out best with.

My childhood could be compared to Mercury, aptly a name for a toxic metal, an attitude and a planet all the same: it shifted rapidly between the hot parts where I was praised and the cold parts where I was put down for slightest mistake and misdirection. I was raised a doll to obey and to perform so that my parents could showcase my achievements to others, as if it made themselves better somehow. While I was bringing straight A's from school almost every day throughout the basic education, every B was met with disappointment: "But why not an A?". I did better than anyone in my class for years, and that wasn't enough.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

I didn't have many friends growing up. I was raised to please people, and this is where my social education ended. It was always a mystery to me how people can communicate so fluently with each other, and every time I tried to take part in a conversation, I was looked down upon for lacking the skills people didn't think once about having. The best advice my mother gave me was to bite back, and my father - to be more cunning than those who command you.

My father was never a big part of my life. Sometimes, we'd travel together somewhere - to see his sister or his mother; sometimes, his job as a miner belonging to an industrial complex of a company would yield me a place at a local resort still resembling the Soviet Union like it did thirty years ago. Most of the time, he was the man who sits in the kitchen reading a newspaper while the TV is playing as a background noise, or he wasn't there at all, working jobs I wouldn't even get a hint about until years later. He was providing money for the family but estranging his son without knowing it: like every kid growing up, I'd rather spend time with my parents than have all the fancy toys.

I never had masculine presence in my life. My father is a hard-working man, but he could never teach me how to be a man; he lost his masculinity to his wife and his age years ago. The only "men" I was surrounded with were my peers, taking influence from the bad kids of the neighbourhood, and there was nothing manly about that. Before my belief in violence as a faulty method of solving problems was developed, I would fight sometimes, rarely; the only major fight I had - and "major" is an overstating it - I would win, were it not for the other kid's goons dragging me off him.

But that wasn't manly. Just two kids thinking they can take on the world, one offender at a time.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

I was always surrounded by women: my mother, my godmother, my half-sister, my grandma, the coworkers of mother's whom I used to see often... I enjoyed women's company back then and I do so now, more than I would men's. The men I knew were always brash and rigid, while women offered the comfort and the smiles I was looking for. It's no wonder I imprinted on them from a young age, and it leaves a flair the light of which I can see to this day.

I was always seen as soft and weak for not wanting to hurt anyone. People saw me useless because I wouldn't carry my weight, socially: I'd always be quiet and smiling, listening to what people have to say, agreeing and speaking only when spoken to. They would, however, be glad to enlist my help with something they knew I could solve, and I'd be eager to help because I enjoyed it so much, - only to be dismissed as soon as my usefulness was outlived for the moment.

Wanting to bring people the most pleasure I could has bit me hard almost every time I reached out and handed what I thought was best for them. It left scars - but, I'm afraid, with the reach of my hand, so did I.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

The feminine imprint lives on to this day. When I dance alone in my apartment, a lot of the time I dance like a woman, with smooth, gradual movements and enticing gestures of hands I move tenderly through the air. I try to be sensual and empathetic whenever I interact with people, and I expect the same back because I spend most of my time with female peers.

I only started to understand how important masculinity is for a man a year ago, when I was, for the first time, away on my own, relying only on myself to take care of me. Away from the dominant wing of my mother - or, should I say, the overbearing propeller - I started to see that, unlike the image she was trying hard to imprint on me, I am, in fact, a man. It was a strange, sudden yet welcome realization that I've been working out in the back of my head for a while: I am a man, and a man I should be.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

I've seen what bad parenting does to a child, and I don't want it to happen to anyone else. I want my family to be healthy and my children - well-prepared for the vast and deep world around them. I want to provide them with safety when they need it and a toolset to carve their own path - and to do that, I must be prepared for that myself.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

I've seen people hurt by trivial nonsense that a simple conversation could resolve, instead building up to the boiling point and exploding to harm both the holder and those they're close to. I've seen people project their problems onto others because they couldn't cope with feeling wrong or inadequate. I've seen people mistake their egos for the truth and fighting for the former as if it disappearing would mean the end of the world. I've been these people.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

I was left bleeding on the pavement by the very people who were supposed to teach me to stand up and walk the way I want. I was left lost, confused, in a world that is so much bigger than just the two of them; in a world that isn't all about their whims or about myself. I have scars to show - literally and mentally - for the things I've gone through, which make it a pain to move where I would be the most free and most capable.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.

Because I want to be better than this. Better than the apathy and the painful closedness that people around me induce in themselves and others. Better than the grievances, the greed and the pain of imperfection. Better than the person I was: hurt, insecure and afraid. Better than the person I am now: braving the storms of the misaligned brain and finally looking forward to the things this life has to offer. Better, every single day, than the person I will be.

This is why I hit the mental gym non-stop.


AnSionnachRua:

Busily getting mentally ripped. Able to spiritually benchpress the weight of your own soul, baby!

It's good to see that your outlook is a bit sunnier.

For what it's worth, I don't think anyone ever feels truly 'manly' in the company of their own father. They're like grizzled veterans of manhood, and you always feel at least slightly inferior in their presence. Or at least that's my excuse.


posted by user-inactivated: 266 days ago