Tag Archives: personal story

How I Lost And Regained My Self-Esteem

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Self-esteem is one of those concepts that has gained a mixed reputation in recent years. To some extent, that reputation is well-earned. We’ve all dealt with people with an inflated ego. Being around them for extended periods can range from frustrating to intolerable. Some have even called the glut of self-esteem and its narcissistic byproducts an epidemic.

Personally, I think that claim is overly hyperbolic. However, I understand the popular sentiment. I was a kid around the time the cracks in the the self-esteem movement really started to show. I sat through many of those classes that espoused the value of self-esteem. I saw all those PSA’s after popular kids shows encouraging kids to believe in themselves no matter what. Even by kid standards, I thought they were cheesy.

At the same time, I was dealing with a lot of personal issues and my self-esteem was often a big part of those issues. I went through periods of my young life when I thought I could do anything. I went through other periods where I thought was a worthless waste of flesh. Going through the rigors of puberty, enduring high school, and dealing with some less-than-ideal health situations certainly didn’t help.

It was worse than this.

In short, I had a lot of self-esteem as a kid. I really believed in myself and I fought hard to affirm that belief. Then, as I became a teenager, I lost my self-esteem. I became a miserable, self-loathing hunk of living misery. I don’t know how I could’ve felt worse about myself. Then, as an adult, I got my self-esteem back and I haven’t let go over it since.

It was a roller coaster ride, to say the least. It wasn’t always a smooth ride and I found many ways to make it harder for myself. The older I get, the more I realize how misguided I was and how much of it was my own doing. I like to think I’ve learned form it. I also think the experience is worth sharing. Hopefully, others can relate. Perhaps, those who struggled like I did can glean lessons I wish I’d learned earlier.

Before I get into the details of this story, I want to make one thing clear. I don’t blame the self-esteem movement that has become so popular to bash.

I don’t blame the schools, either. I grew up in an area where the schools were great, for the most part. By almost any measure, I was lucky. I got an education that many kids in America would envy.

I sure as hell won’t blame my parents and family. In fact, they’re the heroes of this story. They put up with me at times when I was downright insufferable. My mother, my father, and my siblings did all the right things for a kid like me. I’m lucky they were there because things could’ve turned out way worse for me and I have nobody to blame but myself.

To understand where my self-esteem issues began, it’s necessary to understand the kind of kid I was growing up. For the most part, I was pretty normal. However, if there was one trait that set me apart from the other kids, it was how uptight I was.

By that, I don’t just mean I was stressed out by tests and homework. I was the kind of kid who would get anxious and upset if a school bus was late. I always had to be on time. I always had to get things done early. I didn’t procrastinate on anything. That may sound like a useful trait, but the way I went about it made it a liability.

Between being so uptight with timing, I was just as uptight when it came to grades. Anything less than a perfect score was disappointing. I had this mentality where there were only A’s and F’s and nothing in between. Again, this is not something my parents, teachers, or counselors imposed on me. This is something I did to myself.

I held myself to a high standard. I bought into the idea that just believing in yourself was enough to achieve anything. I’d read it in superhero comics. I’d seen it in cartoons. I genuinely believed I was smart and capable at a level that grossly exceeded my actual abilities. Call it inflated self-esteem, if you want. The end result was the same. When you set impossible standards, you set yourself up for inevitable failure.

My parents warned me, as did my siblings and friends. Everybody warned me that I was being too hard on myself. In hindsight, I should’ve listened. I really wish I had because it set me up for some very difficult teen years.

On top of that, this is around the same time I developed a terrible acne problem that plagued me into my 20s. I also developed asthma that made basic exercise or just a typical gym class feel like prolonged torture so on top of having an acne-ridden face, I was also out of shape. It made me extremely self-conscious of my looks and when you’re ready uptight, that’s a bad combination.

Altogether, this hit my self-esteem the same way a flame-thrower hit a wounded fly. I didn’t just lose my confidence. For a while, my sense of self-worth was hanging by the thinnest of threads. It got to a point where I just started randomly insulting myself. It wasn’t a funny kind of self-deprecation, either. My parents and siblings got downright angry with me whenever I did it, but that rarely dissuaded me.

It got bad. For a while, I had a hard time believing it would get much better. I honestly thought my self-esteem was gone and I was destined to be a walking ball of misery. Then, something remarkable happened.

It wasn’t some incredible epiphany, either. As soon as I graduated high school and entered the adult world, I found a new kind of confidence. It didn’t happen overnight, but there was definitely a transition. It started in college, but it only blossomed as I got older and gained more life experience.

I think the catalyst for that change came when I got my first taste of independence. In college, my life wasn’t so micromanaged. I could actually set my own schedule, plan my own day, and make my own choices. Granted, it wasn’t total freedom. I was going to college on my parents’ dollar. However, compared to high school, it was like getting paroled.

In this environment, I learned something critical that I hadn’t learned in high school or from cheesy after school specials. To have self-esteem, it’s not enough to just believe in yourself. You have to work for it. You have to earn that feeling of accomplishment. It’s not easy, but it’s worth doing and by achieving it, you’re going to feel better about yourself, by default.

It also helped that I became much less uptight in college. To some extent, I do blame some of the messages I got in high school. I had been under the impression that if I didn’t get perfect grades in high school, then I would never go to college and I would die poor and lonely. Even if that impression was misguided, it was such a relief to find out my failures in high school did not define me.

That Spanish test I failed in my sophomore year did not ruin my future.

That assignment I botched in my physics class during my Junior year did not decide my fate.

That may not sound like a big deal to most people, but for someone who was as uptight as me, it was eye-opening. It caused me to re-evaluate my approach to personal standards, real achievement, and how I graded myself.

Suddenly, my personal world didn’t seem so dire. There was some room for error. I could make mistakes, learn from them, and be better for it. To my younger self, that concept might as well have been an alien language. I didn’t care about the process. I cared only for the result. I had to learn that appreciating the process helped me work towards those results.

This didn’t just extend to college. It also helped with my personal life and my health. In college, I got my first girlfriend. I actually developed a social life where I made friends, went to parties, and hung out with people. I was still socially awkward. To this day, I’m still behind the curve in that respect. However, I’m light-years ahead of where I was in my youth.

Things really picked up when I started taking care of myself. Instead of just laying around, feeling sorry for myself, I started exercising. I got serious about treating my acne. I sank most of my savings into fixing my eyesight so that I didn’t have to wear thick glasses anymore. In short, I invested in myself. Like any good investment, it didn’t pay off immediately. Over time, though, the results compounded.

Bit by bit, my self-esteem returned. I had to work for it. Whether it was developing better study skills or getting into shape, I actually had to get up in the morning and make a concerted effort. I know it sounds like common sense, but to my younger self, it seemed so hopeless. If I couldn’t achieve everything all at once, then why bother? It was a terrible mindset and one that held me back.

Today, I have the confidence and self-esteem to share this story. I can even look back on those difficult times and laugh at how I acted. Some close family members will even laugh with me, even though I did not make things easy for them. They definitely did their part. They helped keep me from falling too deep into despair. It just took me a while to do my part, as well.

It would be easy for me to make excuses for my struggles. I could’ve blamed the self-esteem movement, misguided teachers, and after school specials that aired in between my favorite cartoon. In the end, they would still be empty. I still made the choices that made me miserable.

I set myself for disappointment and frustration. Nobody was going to come along and fix everything for me. Nothing was going to resolve itself, just by hoping for the best. In the end, my self-esteem was like any other skill or challenge. I had to apply myself. I had to work hard to earn the results I sought. They were hard lessons to learn, but they were worth learning.

I just wished I’d learned them sooner.

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A Personal Story About Mother’s Day And My (Awesome) Mom

Mother And Her Son Having Fun On The Beach

For many people, Mother’s Day is only a holiday for greeting card companies and florists. I understand that, to some extent. It can feel contrived, needing a holiday and an assortment of commercial products to celebrate the heroics of motherhood. It’s still worth celebrating, especially when you happen to have an awesome mother like mine.

I’ve gone out of my way to brag about how great my mom is on this site. I don’t just do that because she’s a regular reader. She really is that awesome. She was my first superhero. She brought me into this world, cared for me, nurtured me, and taught me the value of channeling your passions. It’s not an exaggeration to say that her love helped me become the man I am now.

I haven’t always made it easy on her, but she has always gone the extra mile. She always shows me love, even when I’m being difficult. She always tells me what I need to hear, even when I don’t want to hear it. I could be having a terrible day, lashing out at anyone and everyone around me for no reason. My mother would still show me love, no matter what.

I could tell story upon story that demonstrate why my mother is so wonderful, but in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share one in particular that I feel gets the point across better than any card or flower. It’s a memory that she knows very well and one I know she also cherishes. In many ways, it reflects how difficult and how meaningful mothers can be.

This particular moment occurred on Mother’s Day years ago. I was still a kid in Elementary School, but I was at an age where I could do more for my mother than just give her a card. We’d made plans a week earlier about how we were going to spend Mother’s Day. I made her many promises. I was going to be the one to take care of her for once.

Then, on that fateful Sunday, I woke up feeling horribly sick. I’m not talking about a headache or one too many bowls of ice cream sick. I was running a 101-degree fever and throwing up. It was bad and on the worst possible day. Instead of me taking care of her on Mother’s Day, she ended up having to go the extra mile again, caring for a sick child.

By any measure, it’s not how a mother wants to spend Mother’s Day. Instead of cards and breakfast in bed, she had to take me to the doctors and clean up after me when I threw up. It could’ve been the worst Mother’s Day either of us had ever experienced. Instead, it ended up being one of the best.

That’s because, on that day, I gained a new appreciation for everything my mother did for me. This was supposed to be her day, but here she was, caring for me as any loving mother would. At no point did she ever show any frustration, anger, or resentment. She still tended to me with unconditional love, never hesitating to smile or do whatever she could to make me feel better.

It says a lot about her and about motherhood, in general. There are times when a mother has to step up, throw away her plans, and focus all her energy on her ailing child. It’s rarely convenient. It can even happen during the times when you most need a reprieve. Between me and my siblings, my mom certainly needed plenty. She still never hesitated to do right by her kids.

That fateful Mother’s Day was a disappointment on every level. In time, though, it became an oddly fond memory for both of us. I remember it because my mom was at her best during that day. The holiday didn’t matter. Caring for me when I was sick became her top priority and she did it as well as any grateful son could ask.

Even when she brings it up, she often smiles at the memory. I think she understands why that Mother’s Day stands out among the many that came before it. Instead of a celebration, she got a chance to vindicate the value of loving moms and she did so masterfully. She has every right to be proud of how she handled that day and I’m sure she is, even after all these years.

I don’t remember how long it took me to recover from whatever illness I had that day. What I do remember, though, is how important Mother’s Day became in the years that followed. Before, it had been a formality, of sorts. After that, I felt like I had to go the extra mile as well to show my mother how much I loved her and how much I appreciated her.

This year is no different. She knows I have plans to make this Mother’s Day as special as it should be. She also knows that I’ll always treasure that fateful Mother’s Day from years ago when everything went so wrong, but ultimately revealed just how much lover a mother can give to her child. It’s a beautiful thing and something for which I’m eternally grateful.

I hope this personal story inspires others out there to show their moms some extra love tomorrow. To my own mother, who I hope reads this at some point, you deserve all the love a son can give and then some.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Thank you for being the best mom a guy like me can hope for.

To all you other mother’s out there, thank you for filling this world with your love.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, women's issues

Imagining My Idea Of A Perfect Christmas

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I’d like to do something different today and not just because it’s Christmas Eve. First off, I hope everyone reading this has some festive plans for today and tomorrow. To everyone out there who has been following my work and this website, I sincerely thank you and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

What constitutes a successful Christmas holiday means many things for many people. For some, it means getting together with family, opening presents, and sharing a quiet holiday dinner full of love, cheer, and ugly Christmas sweaters. For some, there are more elaborate traditions, from going to the movies to attending a big party that winds up with some feeling less merry the next day. For some, it’s just another day off work.

Whatever way you or your family celebrate, we all have a different vision for what makes for a perfect Christmas. More often than not, this vision changes considerably as we get older. As kids, a perfect Christmas usually means getting all the toys we asked for. As adults, it’s more about the experience than the gifts. The key is maximizing both.

My idea of a perfect Christmas certainly has changed. When I was in high school, just having a week off made it perfect. When I was in college, being able to spend a few nights in my old room without hearing my roommate snore like a broken chainsaw was good enough. These days, I’ve dared to envision a more ambitious Christmas.

Talk to any of my relatives and they’ll attest to that ambition. I tend to go overboard with the gift-giving. I often buy more than one gift for someone and I go out of my way to make it extra special. I’ve been known to drop a lot more money than most on Christmas presents. It’s almost a running joke among my family. They’ll say I’m thrifty for 11 months out of the year, just so I can splurge on the last.

I take pride in my ability to invest in making Christmas special for those I love and cherish. I’m not married yet, but if I ever do find that special someone, I’ll make it a point to invest even more. Every year, however, I often find myself wondering how great it could be if I had more money and more resources at my disposal.

With that in mind, I’d like to present my vision for the perfect Christmas celebration for me, my family, and those I care about. In this vision, I have an unlimited bank account. Perhaps one of my novels became a best seller or I won the lottery. Whatever the case, money is no object and I can create as festive a spectacle as I please. Given such resources, this is how my perfect Christmas would play out.

On November 1st, I send everyone close to me a request for a list of their most desired presents. Each item can cost no more than $1,000 and must be something that can be wrapped. I tell them they must provide me this list by Thanksgiving or December 1st, at the latest.

With this information, I proceed to buy every gift on this list and even a few extras from me, just to mix things up. Then, I have every one of these gifts professionally gift-wrapped and stored until Christmas Eve.

Then, a week before Christmas Eve, I reserve an entire floor of a fancy hotel. Each room has a fully-lit Christmas tree and whatever comforts my friends and family desire. Along with those rooms, I rent a penthouse suite and have it decorated to the greatest extent possible, complete with lights along every well and a Christmas tree no shorter than nine feet in height.

In addition to the decorations, the penthouse would have a large fireplace and big-screen TVs with everything necessary to watch whatever sports or Christmas specials are on. Everything would be set up with the intent of everyone arriving early on Christmas Eve.

By then, all the presents I had bought and wrapped earlier would be delivered and put under the tree. As soon as friends and family start arriving, I have a team of professional cooks prepare a special lunch buffet. Then, we spend the afternoon together, catching up and enjoying whatever festivities we desire. We cap it all off with a traditional Christmas feast that includes turkey, ham, and cake.

Then, at nine o’clock we all gather around the tree, pick one present, and open it together. After sharing in that moment and enjoying a few late deserts, we all retire to our bedrooms and go to sleep.

The next morning, we sleep in and gather around the tree again to open up the rest of our presents. When all is said and done, we gather around a big dining room table for a Christmas breakfast. From there, we spend the rest of the day enjoying our new presents, watching Christmas specials, and playing games.

It all ends with one last holiday feast, consisting of pasta and meatballs, just like my grandmother used to make. After enjoying this meal, we gather around the tree one last time for desert and just enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the night.

That may seem needlessly elaborate for some, even if they had unlimited money to work with. For me, the key is creating an extra-special experience to share with the people I love. Whether that includes the cost of renting an entire hotel floor or just a few extra bucks on Christmas presents, I believe that investing in that experience helps make the holidays more special.

I may never get rich enough to make this happen. By this time next year, my idea of the perfect Christmas might change considerably, depending on where life takes me. For now, though, this is my little holiday fantasy and I’m happy to share it with those who have helped make this website as successful as it is.

If you have your own idea of a perfect Christmas, please share it in the comments. Once again, I wish everyone reading this a safe and happy holidays.

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A Personal Story About Puberty, Thongs, And High School

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It has been a while since I shared some personal insights. In my defense, this past year has been rough. Back in the summer, two very close family members of mine passed away. It has not been easy getting personal under those circumstances. I’d like to change that and in a way that isn’t entirely depressing.

With that in mind, I’d like to tell a story about puberty. I’ll give everyone a moment to stop laughing and/or cringing. Take all the time you need. If you’re like John Oliver, you may need more time than most.

I feel like it’s worth bringing up because, for better or for worse, how we go through puberty plays a big part in how we grow into adults. I can’t claim with a straight face that I handled puberty as well as I could’ve. If I were to grade myself, I would probably get a C-minus, at best. This story that I’m about to share should help explain why.

To understand why this moment in my life sticks out, there’s a particular context I need to establish, especially for my female audience. When it comes to changing from a child to an adult, there’s no one moment that marks the transition. One single strand of pubic hair doesn’t make you a man any more than one juice box makes you a kid.

More often than not, at least for men, there are a series of moments that effectively signal that you are not a kid anymore. You’re not an adult, either. You’re a teenager, steadily transforming into an adult body and doing your best to handle all these weird and overwhelming changes.

I can’t speak to the female experience, but I can say that as a male, those moments can be pretty powerful. They’re like way-points on the journey to adulthood. This story marks one of those way-points. It involves one of my least favorite classes in high school and cute girls wearing revealing thongs.

I’m being dead serious, here. Again, take all the time you need to stop laughing and/or cringing.

The setting was innocent enough. It’s my freshman year of high school. I’m an awkward 15-year-old with a terrible acne problem, an underwhelming stature, and low self-confidence. I’m also at an age where I’m really starting to feel my hormones and not just in terms of awkward boners. While I’d always enjoyed the company of girls, my teenage brain was starting to complicate those feelings.

I could manage that, for the most part. Then, I walk in my Introduction to Spanish class. Now, I’m already dreading this class because, at the time, I sucked at memorizing things not associated with comic books or NFL stats. It didn’t help that my teacher was awful so I was rarely in a good mood when I walked in.

That mood changed, somewhat, when my teacher gave us assigned seating in a new classroom. As it just so happened, I ended up sitting right behind a beautiful young woman with brown hair, tan skin, and nails she always painted purple. Why do I remember that while I forgot pretty much everything else in that class? That’s where thongs enter the story.

This girl, in addition to being beautiful and sweet, loved to wear thong underwear. I knew because from where I was sitting, I could see it clearly. It didn’t matter what kind of pants she wore or what the weather was like. Whenever she leaned forward on her desk, I got a perfect view of the top part of her thong.

I don’t know if it was intentional. This girl was not shy about her body, but not in a trashy sort of way. She was very sweet and kind to everyone, regardless of what she wore. She was that way with me, even though I had lousy social skills and bad acne. Whatever her reason, she didn’t seem to care that her thong showed every time she leaned forward. I never pointed it out to her and neither did anyone else.

I freely admit that I was very distracted by this, but not in a way I minded. If it weren’t a beautiful girl wearing a thong, it would’ve been something else. That’s how disinterested I was in this class. It led to more than a few awkward boners, but I’d been getting those for years. I’d never gotten them in a way that felt like a direct response to someone else’s presence.

It wasn’t just a sign that my body was changing. It signaled that my mind was changing too. How I felt and how I thought about girls was different than before. It was never going to be the same again and I feel like it started with that one thong-loving girl.

I acknowledge that there will be some people out there who think less of me for gawking at the sight of a young woman’s underwear, especially while at school. I’m won’t make excuse and I won’t apologize for it, either.

I was a 15-year-old boy going through puberty. I hadn’t yet mastered the art of hiding porn in my bedroom and the concept of sexy underwear on beautiful women was just starting to appeal to me. It’s for that very reason, however perverse some may find it, that this memory is so vivid for me.

It was at this moment, sitting in Spanish class and covertly admiring the cute girl’s thong, that I realized I was not a kid anymore. I was becoming an adult. That was a critical revelation for me because, up until that point, I still thought of myself as a kid. Even at 15, I hadn’t quite shed that part of my identity. This experience changed that.

I couldn’t keep clinging to childhood. Moreover, I didn’t want to anymore. I felt like an adult. I wanted to grow up. I know that sounds like a lot of revelation from just seeing a cute girl’s thong, but make no mistake. The impact was that profound. It remains a defining moment for my adolescence.

In addition to the thong, I also remember the girl’s name. For the sake of her privacy, I won’t share it. However, after I finished that class, I never had a class with her again. I didn’t see much of her for the rest of high school. I doubt I’ll ever see her again. Even if I don’t, her impact on my teenage life is etched in bedrock. For that, I thank her and her tastes in underwear.

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A (Sexy) Personal Story About My Ex-Girlfriend

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Every now and then, I take a moment to get personal on this site by recounting a particular moment in my life. I enjoy sharing those parts of myself. I even find them therapeutic at times. Most of the time, I do that to help make a larger point about a more serious issue or to celebrate a holiday, such as Mother’s Day.

However, this is not one of those times.

Today, I’d like to share a story of a far sexier variety. Don’t drive your heads too deep into the gutter. It’s not one of those stories that will get as graphic as my novels or my sexy short stories. This is just a little tidbit of my life that should help explain why I have such a lurid mind and such eclectic passions.

This particular story involves an ex-girlfriend of mine. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve bitterness, broken hearts, or revenge. There are enough stories like that on the internet. Instead, I want to share a story that is both uplifting and influential. To date, I think it has heavily influenced my desire to write and share sexy stories.

To understand why this moment is so influential, I need to provide some context. This particular moment occurred during my freshman year of college. I had met my girlfriend online through a comic book message board. We’d been chatting back and forth for over a year before we actually met. When we finally did meet in person, it was the opposite of one of those catfishing stories.

What we had was a beautiful thing. We were very comfortable talking to each other about things that were nerdy or embarrassing to discuss with others. That didn’t just pertain to comics, though. We also talked about sexy stuff. In our defense, were a couple of horny college students. That’s not an excuse. That’s a valid reason. There’s a difference, as I’ve noted before.

It’s that comfort that helped us forge what might have been one of the sexiest parts of our relationship. During the Thanksgiving holiday that year, my girlfriend came over the visit for a few days. As part of the festivities, we both went shopping on Black Friday. That may not sound romantic, but seeing as how we both love shopping on the holidays, it might as well have been a day in Paris.

I took her to one of the big malls in my area. We spent most of the afternoon there, eating lunch and navigating chaotic crowds. The fact she insisted on wearing heels just showed how dedicated she was to sharing the holiday spirit with me. That dedication showed in the last store we visited that day, which happened to be Victoria’s Secret.

Now, if you’re a healthy heterosexual man like me, you tend to have mixed feelings about that store. You love sexy lingerie and the sexy models who wear them, but when you’re single, spending too much time around a Victoria’s Secret can send all the wrong messages. When you’re with your girlfriend, though, it can be the sexiest kinds of fun.

My ex-girlfriend understood this so she didn’t hesitate to lead me inside, putting me in close proximity with all the sexy attire I love describing in my stories. From there, she demonstrated the energy of a kid in a candy factory, browsing some extra intimate apparel that included a nighty and a thong.

It’s worth noting at this point that my ex was abnormally comfortable with this sort of thing. She wasn’t just the kind of girl who didn’t mind talking about sex. She had a pretty dirty mind and an even dirtier mouth. In public and around people, she was very sweet and polite. In private, though, she said things that would make a hardened sailor gasp. That should help make clear why I was so attracted to her.

She knew this too because we spent more time in that Victoria’s Secret store than we did any other store at the mall. We didn’t mind, though. Personally, I wish we could’ve stayed longer. When we did leave, it wasn’t empty-handed. My ex bought a little something that day, as well. It made for a damn productive day, especially for two indebted college students.

The story doesn’t end there, though. In fact, it gets even sexier because early that next morning, my ex decided to put that new lingerie to good use. Just before the sun came up, she snuck over to my bed and slipped out of the pajamas she’d worn, revealing that she was wearing that same sexy nighty and revealing thong we saw in the store. Needless to say, that woke me up in the best possible way.

What happened after that is something I prefer to keep private. I promise it didn’t get too lurid. Remember, I was at my parents’ house and they weren’t going to let us get too reckless. That said, there were some intimate moments that were pretty intense, probably the most intense we shared during our relationship.

That’s as much detail I’m willing to share about that moment, for now. I hope it offers some insight into where some of my kinky musings come from. Out of respect and appreciation for that moment, I won’t share anything else about my ex-girlfriend. I doubt she’ll ever read this, but I still sincerely thank her for the time we had together.

A while back, I found out my ex-girlfriend actually got married. By all accounts, she’s as happy as she’s ever been and I’m happy for her. I think the man she married is lucky to have her. I sincerely hope that I can build something like it with a future lover. Until that day comes, sexy memories like this one will keep inspiring me.

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, romance

Recalling The Time I Felt Most Emasculated

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Everybody has a few low points in their lives that they would prefer to forget. Even the richest, most privileged among us have moments where they feel like a wounded deer in a den of hungry wolves. I’ve certainly had my share of those days. While the pain they’ve caused me has waned over the years, I still remember them as clearly as they day they happened.

Talking about those moments is never easy. Most are content to keep them buried in the past and not think about them, a tactic favored by eccentric mad scientist cartoon characters. However, I believe there is some therapeutic value to revisiting those moments. Some of them can even offer insights that are more relevant today than they were when they happened.

In that spirit, I’d like to share one the greatest low points I ever had. What makes it relevant, though, isn’t that it was just especially bad. This one particular point marked the time in my life when I felt most emasculated, as a man.

Seeing as how I’ve talked a great deal about masculinity, from the way it has been demonized by ongoing social trends to the double standards that affect it, I think moments like this stand out more than they would have in previous years. I’ve even found myself recalling these moments more lately, but this particular moment tends to hit me the hardest.

To understand this memory and why it left me feeling so emasculated, I need to establish the situation. It takes place back when I was in grade school, specifically the fifth grade. That’s an important detail because this is a time when most kids are on the cusp of puberty and just learning what it means to mature from a kid to an adult.

Even before this particular event, I wasn’t handling that transition as well as I’d hoped. I had some attitude problems back then. I wasn’t much of a troublemaker, but I had a nasty habit of getting defensive. I would take things way too personally and overreact way too easily, even by the standards of a fifth grader.

As a result, this left me with few friends and more than a few enemies. I won’t say they were outright bullies, but they were close and I did everything I could go to goad them. My social skills were just that poor and my insecurities were just that great.

All those issues culminated near the end of the school year when my class took part in this big Civil War project that was supposed to be fun. The way it worked was we all picked names out of a hat to represent notable Civil War figures. Then, we would act out those roles in a make-shift activities, the last one being this big mock battle outside using water balloons.

It should’ve been fun. It was late May, the weather was warm, and we’d have an excuse throwing water balloons at each other. For me, though, it turned into one of the worst moments of my pre-adult life. I still consider it one of the most damaging moments of my life, to date.

Back when we were picking names out of a hat, I had the misfortune of picking the name of a woman. The name of the woman was Louisa May Alcott and, for all the wrong reasons, I’ve come to shutter at that name. That’s not to criticize her place in history, but picking that name really made that project a nightmare.

I tried to get another name, but my teacher wouldn’t let me. In hindsight, I could understand why. There were a lot of girls in that class stuck with male roles and there were only a few female roles to go around. I couldn’t even trade with someone. She basically told me to suck it up and go with it.

That, alone, was tough because I was the only boy in that class stuck with a female role. Needless to say, I got made fun of pretty quickly. Thanks to my attitude and immaturity at the time, I did everything possible to make it worse.

Throughout the project, I felt very uncomfortable playing this role and didn’t do a very good job. No matter what I did, I just gave everyone another reason to make fun of me and I reacted in a way that just gave them more incentive. In many ways, it was my fault for letting it get that bad. There were easy solutions, though, and my teachers never did a damn thing to help me.

Finally, on the day of the water balloon fight, it all came to ahead. I had already been in a bad mood that day and I did a lousy job of hiding it. As a result, I heard some kids talking about how they’d gang up on me and target me alone with their water balloons. It left me genuinely scared that I was going to be completely humiliated.

That might have been paranoia on my part, but it was more than enough to make me sit it out. When we were lining up to start the water balloon fight, I slipped away and sat down near the back wall of the school. I don’t remember if I told my teacher. I’m pretty sure I got knocked down a grade for not participating, but I wasn’t thinking about that.

However, that wasn’t the worst part. Shortly after the water balloon fight started, some of the kids from my class started mocking me from far. They started calling out, “Hi Louisa!” None of them ran up to me and threw their water balloon at me, but the damage had been done.

It was at that moment, all those kids laughing at me and calling me that woman’s name, where the distress I felt turned into outright emasculation. Make no mistake. There is a difference. Just being embarrassed is hard enough for anyone. Being emasculated, though, feels much more personal.

Regardless of how you feel about gender being a social construct or the faults in masculine standards, our gender is very much a part of who we are. Being a man is part of who I am, more so than me being a comic book fan or an aspiring erotica/romance writer. When I feel like that part of me is under attack, the damage runs much deeper.

Hearing those voices from my classmates and the laughter that followed didn’t just make me feel upset, sad, and angry. I suddenly felt less than human, lacking the qualities of men and women alike. I had no sense of worth, dignity, or identity. I felt like a wounded animal, just waiting to get eaten.

I tried to shut it out. I just kept my head down and stared at my shoes the entire time, trying with all my might not to break down and cry on the spot. I managed to avoid that, thankfully. I don’t doubt that would’ve made the moment even worse.

I’m also grateful that one of the school counselors stopped by and sat next to me. I think her presence was what stopped the chanting. She talked to me, but I don’t remember her saying anything that made me feel better. I just sat there and waited for the day to end.

Eventually, it did. I got through it and moved forward, but that moment still left quite a few scars that took a long time to heal. After that day, I became much more of a shut-in. I stopped talking in class. I stopped trying to make friends. I basically shut myself off as much as possible, saying as little as I could to get through the day.

I’m not saying that moment was completely responsible for my poor social skills, which would carry on through high school where a terrible acne problem helped compound my situation. However, I do think it set the tone. It damaged my sense of self, both in terms of my gender and of the person I was growing into.

It took a long time and a lot of work, complete with the undying support of my friends and family, to recover from that moment. When I think back on it now, I feel like it has greater meaning at a time when masculinity is seen as inherently negative. Having had my masculinity attacked at one point, I understand how damaging it can be.

These days, it’s not uncommon to hear people decry and demean men, as a whole. There have been women who advocated for the outright murder of men. They’ve been brushed off, not unlike how my teachers brushed off my discomfort on that fateful day. However, if a man even shows a hint of misogyny, they’re outright vilified. Just ask Henry Cavill.

That gives the impression that it’s okay to make a man feel emasculated, but you’re an outright monster if you make a woman feel offended in any way. It’s as though our gender determines how much compassion we get. That’s not just unfair. That’s unjust to an egregious extent.

I’ve since come to terms with what happened that day. I acknowledge that I was responsible for how parts of it played out, but there were also factors I couldn’t control and it hurt me on a deeply personal level. I don’t doubt for a second that plenty of men out there have found themselves in similar positions, feeling so low and utter unmasculine that it’s downright traumatic.

Nobody deserves to feel that way, regardless of their gender. I hope that by sharing my experience, other men will feel comfortable sharing theirs as well. There may still be those who hear stories like this and roll their eyes, thinking a man’s pain just cannot compare to that of a woman or someone who is transgender. To those people, I would say that pain is pain. It doesn’t care about your gender. It still hurts all the same.

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Filed under gender issues, human nature, Jack Fisher's Insights, psychology, sex in society, sexuality

Becoming A Better Man: A Lesson From My Father

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As kids, we rarely appreciate the lessons and insights our parents give us. For the most part, we see their efforts as an obstacle to our daily goal of having candy for every meal and staying up as late as we want. It’s only after we grow into adults and learn much harsher lessons from the world around us that we truly appreciate our parents.

That has certainly been my case. I’m very fortunate and very grateful because I have the best parents I ever could’ve hoped for. My mother and father did everything a kid could ask for in a parent and then some. I try to thank them every chance I get and I’m not just saying that because I know they regularly read this site. I genuinely mean it.

Earlier this year, I shared a special personal story about me and my mother to help celebrate Mother’s Day. Rest assured, I have just as many special stories about my father. I’ve mentioned before how his parenting style is distinct from my mother’s. He’s a lot more direct in how he establishes how a good, honorable man should behave. It’s because of him that I have a healthy appreciation for noble masculinity.

There are so many stories I could tell that demonstrate why my dad is so special and how he helped me appreciate the importance of becoming a better man. On the eve of Father’s Day, I’d like to share one of those stories. It’s one I’m sure I remember more vividly than my dad because while it was a defining moment for me, he probably sees it as just another day of being a great father.

This particular story takes place when I was about nine years old. I was a kid, but a growing kid. It was an age where you start to understand what it means to mature. I bring that up because it ended up being a critical component of this particular story.

My family was visiting one of my many aunts and uncles. I don’t remember the occasion, but my family has never needed much excuse to get together and party. For me, I just loved going there to hang out with my cousins. Growing or not, though, I was a kid and kid get rowdy after a certain period of time and sugar intake. It might as well be a law of physics.

The most memorable part of the visit, however, came towards the end when it was getting late and my parents needed the kids to settle down. In a confined space full of kids no older than 10, they might as well ask gravity to reverse itself on top of that. It just wasn’t going to happen without some sort of parenting wizardry.

That’s where my father comes in. It’s right around nine o’clock and my parents, along with every other adult in that house, were low on patience. My siblings and cousins had crowded in a bedroom where I was sort of leading the rowdiness, listening to music and yelling at the TV. My father might as well have walked into an insane asylum and I was the one handing out the tainted meds.

The first thing he did was turn off the TV, which for a kid my age was like slap in the face coupled with a kick to the shin. He didn’t raise his voice or yell. He just walked in there, carrying himself like a Navy Seal, and let his presence do the talking. Most of the younger kids in the room listened, but I didn’t. I still insisted on being difficult.

I ended up making a scene, saying I didn’t want to go and I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t even cute about it either. I admit I was an outright brat. If my father’s reading this, I think he remembers this better than I do. He’d probably use much stronger words, but in my defense, I was an immature kid surrounded by other immature kids.

Despite that attitude, my father didn’t flinch for a nanosecond. He just stood there, looked down at me with a glare that could’ve melted steel, and just kept repeating my name in this stern, stoic mantra. Again, he didn’t yell. He didn’t demand my obedience. He didn’t lay a hand on me. He just stood there like a titan.

At first, it annoyed the hell out of me and that just made me more restless. I kept making a racket that I’m sure the other adults in the house heard. My dad was well within his right to grab me by the shirt and put the fear of God in me. He still didn’t do it. He just kept repeating my name, as if to wear me down.

On paper, it shouldn’t have worked. It shouldn’t have gotten an immature kid my age to shut up. I don’t even remember how long I kept it up. After repeating my name in that tough, but authoritative voice for who knows how long, I finally broke. I just fell silent. Every kid in the room fell silent as well. It was downright eerie, but it worked. My father had silenced a room full of kids without breaking a sweat.

If that doesn’t demonstrate how awesome my dad is, I don’t know what will. He still wasn’t done, though. After the room fell silent, he told me we were leaving in a half-hour. I just nodded. I then asked if we could play one more game before that. I didn’t ask in a whiny, childish tone, though. I asked in the same serious tone he’d used. My dad, being as loving as he was tough, just smiled and nodded.

As the years have gone by, that moment has gained greater and greater meaning. It was at that moment that I realized what it meant to be mature. Just whining and begging wasn’t going to get me what I wanted anymore. If I wanted something from someone, I had to show respect and humility when I asked.

My father didn’t spell that out for me. Instead, he demonstrated it in a way I would never forget. He didn’t try to explain, word for word, the merits of being mature around other adults and why I should do it. He showed me. He made it so that what I’d been doing before as a kid no longer worked. If I wanted to get my way, I had to do something different. I had to be more mature about it.

That kind of lesson is a lot to process for a nine-year-old. I don’t think I began to appreciate it until a few years later when I noticed other kids around me trying to avoid that kind of maturation. When they wanted something, they still whined and complained. I didn’t do that and I’m a better man because of that.

It made me better through the rest of my youth. Talk to any of my relatives who knew me during that time and they’ll probably say the same thing. I was a lot more mature than most kids my age. Some even said that talking to me was like talking to a young adult. That earned me more respect than most kids my age and that helped a great deal, especially as I struggled through my teenage years.

It ended up being one of the most important lessons I ever learned as a kid. It might have been the most valuable lesson that my father ever taught me. To get what you want and to get along with people, you can’t beg for it. You can’t force it, either. You have to show respect and respect begins by showing it to others. It doesn’t matter if your a kid or adult. There’s value in being mature, respectful, and kind.

There are so many great memories I have of me and my dad, from trips to the beach to just paying catch in the back yard. However, that fateful day when he taught me that important lesson in maturity still stands out, especially on the eve of Father’s Day. It’s a moment that I treasure to this day and one that has helped shaped me into the man I am today.

I hope that story resonates with fathers and their children. To my own dad, if you’re reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being such an awesome father and for showing me how to be a better man.

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Filed under gender issues, Jack Fisher's Insights, noble masculinity