I Chose Weak Men On Purpose By Kyle Phoenix
Recently, within the past few months I've been having all of these deep conversations with friends and family---I think it has something to do with more and more of my writing becoming public/published in books and articles. It's not a fame thing, it's just when stuff is in print, people can muse on it, ponder and think on it, come up with deeper questions than perhaps casual conversation always allows. In quite a bit of my fiction work, if you know me there's always a fun possibility that I'm relating some of my own personal affairs, my sexual habits and my deeper love affairs. I tend to be very mums the word, very Scorpio, never too detailed or name specific even to family and friends about whom I'm seeing. Ironically I write and work a lot around relationship and sexuality advice/information. And even more fun it sort of came out recently that I've, past tense, been involved with a couple of "known" people.
Up until my late twenties though I had a penchant for weak men. I would say by default because they were often full of bravado, very verbal men who you wouldn't think of as weak but were. The other night I was laying in bed, musing on books and ideas and a screenplay for a same sex love story and I got to thinking about my own past love stories...and why I kept thinking about these weak men. I searched the crevices of my heart---I don't love them any longer, I'm not pining for them, and in person I sort of remember at the end not finding them attractive. Yet I would find myself musing about that one sexually, that one's issues, that one's voice and considering contacting them. Then I would fast forward to all the things I've done and still have to complete---more books, films, law school, teaching, travel---and realize that I couldn't have done or plan to do any of those things with them. In fact---counting about 6 of them now---I didn't accomplish any of those things with them, doubly in fact---I didn't accomplish much of my own goals with them. So why was I even with them?
The handful of men, thanks to friends, the internet and acquaintance, haven't accomplished any of the things they boasted about, wanted to or even I cheered in their corner to do. In fact they're sort of that friend that we've all had with big dreams and know how to fix everything yet never accomplish anything but being critical. They all have that as a flaw. But I chose them. One therapist told me that I surrounded myself with people specifically who were of lesser caliber than myself so that I wouldn't have to live up to my potential. A high school teacher years before that, in one of the most revealing moments I remember from my teens, told me that some people are afraid to fail but that I was one afraid to succeed.
I dragged my exes in mental holograms through Harville Hendrix's excellent emotional/psycho-therapeutic work, the Imago System long ago that essentially shows how our childhood parents/guardians teach us love and dysfunction and we re-play that pattern out over and over until we're aware of the pattern and how to manage/change it. I've taught this in workshops for years, so naturally I always look at myself and my upbringing when I get a hint that I'm playing out with my Imago. And yes, my exes in many ways emotionally reflect aspects of my parents---their self-absorption, their unfulfilled dreams, their passive aggressiveness, their fear, their angers---yup, I sought it out in lovers.
I sit at home and traveling, with far more alone time ironically than I normally have. I use a lot of that time to write and read and in my writing, I'm also editing stuff, re-printing old stories and articles...and re-visiting that work brings me back to that period of my life, to those relationships. A couple of exes wanted to be writers or filmmakers---and unless they bust a serious move, I don't see that happening. Yet for two of them, going to school together, I've done, currently do and will continue to do both. Another desperately wanted to write and never will because of a host of other anxieties and I purposefully never told him how much writing I'd done, that I'd been published because I didn't want to be intimidating or overwhelming. I used to remind myself to be more vulnerable thinking that was my issue, or at least one of them, and now I see that I didn't grow up with complete encouragement for my talents and gifts. Howard Stern said that he spent so much of his professional life trying to get his father's esteem and when he finally got it, you suddenly realize how small it is, how little it now matters to you. I feel the same sometimes when my mother tells me how proud she is of my books or schooling or TV show---I'm like...meh. Mainly because I spent so many years learning to not need anyone's accolades for my work, to become almost invulnerable to criticisms and compliments and only interested in useful feedback.
I chose weak men because I knew I was spending my time and energy on them and not the other way around. And honestly I walked away from all of them (and threw one out) and I also honestly knew that they weren't going to amount to much. Somehow sitting with them, playing with them, expending energy and attention on them made me feel not guilty about the fact that we weren't of the same caliber. People around me warned me about one or two, even my mentor Carlene Hatcher Polite when I told her about one who I thought was "The One" told me that he wasn't---he's not strong enough for you. She was right. But I think I was proudest of the fact that I was dating, in a relationship, paying attention to someone, that maybe I was being normal. I've spent so much of my life being singled out as smart and talented that it's like you stand alone in your own category to superiors and inferiors alike so it's so nice when I'm just "normal". But in retrospect those men were expecting me or using me as a form of enhancement,so I wasn't normal even to them. I helped them get jobs, friends, money, pretty much the Grade A hook up and they provided distraction, distraction from my own talents from me.
I've always been so careful in life to be egalitarian, to lower myself or uplift others to the same levels...but now I'm recognizing that we're all built with the potential of equality and that I have to take charge and responsibility for my abilities. And acknowledge the lack in others. That's hard. Because I want to be nice and liked, though I think both states and social forms are detestable---I don't want to be a "bad" person though I think bad is subjective (I often remind my students in class that even Hitler thought he was doing the right thing) and morally based. Yet I chose weak men to strain my emotional muscles on, to stretch for, just for the exercise because other than you know....amazing tales and plot twists in my fiction and archetypes and stereotypes and characters traits that make for interesting fiction---they haven't amounted to much more than when I found them. I have to look at myself and realize that I am good, I am talented, I am growing and creative. That's hard to do because I've been my only mirror since I was a child. And by the time I got to teachers saying it to me, I was still trying to figure out what I was doing. I sure as hell wasn't getting it from my parents or family members and I was practicing a lower form of lower echelon friends for years so lower echelon lovers was only natural.
I cleaned out some lower friends over the years, some knew it, some now realize they were kicked to the curb and others...well they were too dense to know much of anything to begin with. One friend I knew for years and I decided to back off from our friendship when she said something hurtful in about 2002. In 2009 she contacts me and leaves a message and says the EXACT thing as to why I stopped being friends with her years prior. The same thing happened with an ex recently. Maybe that and the writing is what has me wandering down lovers lane?
I'm better at embracing my talents and strengths and creativity and Art now. I'm thinking of it more in terms of a large panorama of Art across the swath of my lifetime for the next 50 years. And I'm starting to consider the many more lovers I'll have, as there is a sea of possibilities and potential always, millions of new choices. I guess I think about the weak men I chose because they represent where I go mentally (and in their time physically) to be unproductive, to be depressed, to be ashamed of myself.
But I take responsibility for choosing them, and I'm accountable to the lack of results I got with them and in integrity I can say they are proudly my inferiority manifested because manhood is about operating from those three paradigms, their weakness manifested by their substantial lack in those areas. I chose weak men on purpose...but they also chose a strong one and couldn't tie him down.
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