Using art creation to overcome anxiety triggers from your romantic past
(*I will be using Our and We in favour of the readers who do not identify as one of the Men I am describing. I will use “He” to identify most men.)
(**To protect their identities, all actual men have been named “Eddie”.
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow.Whitney Houston
Agree with me silently, wherever you are: Men evade *our emotions to invent excuses for selfish behaviour.
As you read this article, please remember your dignity and deserved self-respect.
I promise you: He was wrong.
In this article, I will outline three of the common semiotic weapons men typically use against us and I will recommend some ways in which you can retrieve your righteousness.
Also, please listen to Whitney Houston as you read this. I will do the same as I write.
1. “I am a good guy.”
“What is so wrong with singing karaoke?” Ask his wife.
“There’s nothing wrong with singing karaoke.” Dr Phil is staring at the ground. He is addressing a pedophile but he is addressing the ground. “The problem is. Putting an ad on Craigslist and waiting for someone like a sixteen year old to answer so–“
“But he isn’t waiting for her. He is waiting for karaoke.”
The man with the rectangular lenses makes the audience uncomfortable. He places one hand on his wife’s back, silencing her, reassuring her that she needn’t defend him because he has everything under control. All he needs is for the audience to answer one question: Has anyone here used Craigslist and met someone whose lied before? “Because that happens to me all the time.” He blames, “Girls lie about their age.”
“But why.” Dr. Phil stares very briefly at the man in the glasses, silently letting the questions sit: But, why.
“Well now that I know there are decoys, I don’t go on these pedophile things anymore.”
His wife claps.
“He’s a really good guy! He’s a good guy!” She repeats.
I know this wife. You know her too.
You know at least one man who is a master of manipulation. I can list five names without even thinking. They are out there. And their “wives” are stuck with them.
These wives and girlfriends or sometimes just friends are, in a sense, enablers but they are also in deep shit. Something has them captive and, whatever it is, it’s not going to end well for them.
I know because I have been that wife. Dedicated to him even though he is a terrible human, even though he is dragging me along for some weird unsustainable ride, even though I don’t really know anything about him.
But, everyone thinks he is a good guy!
If you are a dedicated to a man in this way, you probably really believe that you are in love and that is amazing for you. No sarcasm, I hope you find what you are looking for. If it ever doesn’t work out, this article will be PERFECT for you.
In the meantime, let’s focus on those of us who know a someone that is acting like a blind wife.
For those of us who have been traumatized by a man or a number of men, it can be emotional to have a friend is perpetually defending a man you recognize as No Good.
Anxiety is easily triggered when we are watching the trainwreck relationship of a friend who is in love with a man that mimics exactly someone who has hurt us in the past or even just a man who hurts people willy nilly.
How can we stop projecting to ease our own anxiety?
Here’s what you can do:
- Write a jingle for the man your friend is in love with. Each time she talks about him, instead of listening, sing the song in your head! Over and over again! It will make you smile and you won’t piss off your friend.
- Write a list of conditions that you have for your ideal romantic partner. Love isn’t always unconditional. Boundaries are beautiful. Make yours very clear for yourself. Weave them in your mind like a blanket you can wear each time you feel fearful and anxious.
2. “I’m Just Trying to Help”
“Whoa. Abs!” **Eddie exclaims in shock as he watches my body from the bed. I am turning on the light to get away from him, end the evening, goodnight, shut up, goodbye.
“Yeah,” is my own answer.
I have been dating Eddie for two months. There is no reason why he should suddenly be shocked by my (slightly) toned abdomen.
Eddie is not really shocked nor is he really commenting on my body.
Just before we started dating, Eddie lost some gigantic amount of weight.
He feels really proud of his body and he fishes for complements whenever possible. I never complement Eddie. He always retorts by saying something that is basically evil.
“It’s because you turned around. I didn’t expect abs from watching your back. Your back is different.”
If you’ve ever dated a man with unreasonably high standards for physical aesthetic in his sexual partner you would know, they are rude.
Eddie’s excuse for passive agressive blah blah? He put in a lot of hard work to build his body so he’s just being critical. He is just trying to help.
In three months of sex with Eddie I endured nearly 200 negative critiques of my body.
Thanks to Eddie, my current boyfriend of just over a year who would never insult the way I look recieves a nice pregnant pause each time he complements me as I wait for something nasty to follow.
How do we kill the Eddies in our head?
I recommend the following peaceful options:
- Write an in-depth character sketch of your passive aggressive lover. Most of the men who hurt us are actually indefensibly rotten. Let him be, on paper, just the worst and then you can readily appreciate: His opinion is nothing.
- If you believe this man’s critiques, if you really can’t get his voice out of your head, attack your insecurities with rigorous drawings, diagrams, sketches of all the things you believe are so terrible about yourself. I was able to accomplish this earlier this year, in a green notebook I titled “My things”. I used to run into Eddie because he was dating a woman who lived near me. Drawing my things was a way to get back at him and regain ownership over my image. Give yourself a chance to explore your shape, colour, beauty.
3. “You didn’t ask”
Here’s the last one and it’s the hardest.
Raise your hand if you have been with a man that blamed you for their hideous behaviour.
So often when we tell our partner that we didn’t know, we didn’t know they had a problem, we didn’t know they were going to do something, we didn’t know they were cheating or fired or in debt, how often do they turn around and say, “You didn’t ask.”
No. He knows he should have told you. He knows. That’s it. That’s all you have to understand. He knows. He is refusing to be accountable for misleading you which is an abuse of your trust.
He will make you feel stupid. He will make you feel blamed.
When someone is inherently selfish they will continue to lie to you regardless of your emotional response, regardless of the echo of trauma you will need to face, regardless of You.
Shut that down.
Delete. Block. Get out.
And then, please do the following:
- Keep a journal. Every morning, wake up and write for twenty minutes. This will be your litmus test of where you’re at. You’ll notice the level of your obsession right away and you will have a leg-up on the let-go. Additionally, over time, I promise you, you will run out of thoughts of him
- Shut down your usual social media for a month and take up an anonymous handle. Join separate communities based in real interests. Get on Tik Tok or even YouTube, something that can potentially move you to laughter or otherwise. Study the strangers who melt your heart. Create anonymous content. Your story is real and it might be too much for your immediate community to swallow but there is a whole world of strangers alive and waiting for something titillating to shake up their day and guess what, girl, he will never ask what you are up to so now it’s your turn for secret creative fun.
- Work with your hands. Sculpt, draw, photo, write, whatever. Create and build. Those are your weapons. Those are your tools. For one thing, it will distract you but it will also give you a sense of control. Art and creation is within you and it is your path to healing so buy some markers and start scribbling. Be furious. Be really furious. Don’t judge a single thing you make. So often obsession pulls us up and away from reality but this is your chance to let your mind connect to the world through a tangible activity and you will find grounding.
- Dance dance dance. Whitney. Loud. Right now.