We live in a world of walking wounded. There is not a person I know who is not burdened by some type of deep-seated emotional problem rooted in their childhood or some past fucked-up relationship. It is common for men to talk about how screwed up every woman we meet is, how they all seem to be carrying baggage from some past relationship, some long ago man that screwed them over, or some unresolved daddy issues or worse. The battle-scarred woman whose last boyfriend beat her up or cheated on her or verbally abused her or ignored her entirely is so common place as to be a cliche'. Unfortunately, so is the tale of the woman who underwent the same treatment at the hands of a father or step-father or some other man from their past who abused them in some way or another, an uncle, brother, cousin, or neighbor. Even more disturbing is the number of women who have been sexually assaulted by someone close to them at one time or another. And we are left with the pieces of these shattered women trying to put them back together.
We men talk about these women often as if we bare no responsibility for what has happened to them. We bemoan all the "ruined" women out there but what about the ruined men? The men who ruined these women were undoubtedly ruined themselves. And here's something else to consider, each and every one of us may be one of those ruined men. Can any one of us honestly say that there's not some other man out there cursing us for long ago utterly destroying the trust of the woman he has now found himself in a relationship with? Can any one of us honestly say that there is not some woman out there explaining to the new man in her life how her emotions are all screwed up because of something that we did to her? If you've got a clear conscience I'd love to meet you. It would be like meeting Santa Clause because from my experience of the world you are surely a myth.
These wounded women had to come from somewhere. We are the husbands, boyfriends, and fathers that neglected, abused, lied to, cheated on, and ruined the trust and self-esteem of these women and why? I'll tell you why. Because somewhere along the way someone neglected, abused, lied to, cheated on, or otherwise ruined our own self-esteem and capacity for love. That's right. For every woman that you have sat around wishing that you had met before some other man ruined her, there is a woman sitting around wishing that she had met you before your own father, mother, ex-girlfriend or wife ruined you. We have just passed the pain right down the line.
Often, we don't hurt these women intentionally. We just didn't really want to be in a relationship and were in it just for the fun and this woman just got too attached when we told her not too. Or we were still rebounding from our last failed relationship and were emotionally unavailable. Or we had a drug problem or an alcohol problem or a sex addiction or we were workaholics or we couldn't find a job and had never really developed strong work ethics or our own parents screwed us up so bad we really didn't know how to be warm and affectionate. Whatever the reason we have to acknowledge our own culpability in this cycle of emotional destruction. It doesn't matter where it began. The question is where will it end.
I have struggled long and hard to put an end to my own destructive cycle. The hardest thing I've ever had to do was to walk away from a woman I was still desperately in love with because I had nothing but pain to give her but I had to stop the cycle. I didn't want anymore blood on my hands and I was too screwed up to be a friend to her without slipping back into a sexual relationship and other commitments would have made that disastrous. So I had to say goodbye. The damage there was already done though. All I can do is make certain that she will be the last woman that I ever make feel that way.
I have two daughters now. After years and years of seeing first hand the results of poor parenting on women I now have the responsibility of doing better by my own daughters. It is my responsibility to protect them from sexual predators. It is my responsibility to build their self-esteem and let them know how beautiful, talented, and intelligent they are. It is my responsibility to build their character and make them strong, give them the strength to speak their minds and stand up for themselves. It is my responsibility to make sure that they understand how much they are loved so that they never need to go looking for the love they didn't find in their father in the arms of men who will use and abuse them.
I have a son too. I am teaching him about his own responsibility to the women in his life. That men are meant to protect, not to harm. I am teaching him that women are to be adored not used and discarded. I am teaching him that any woman he mistreats will become some other man's problem in the future and that man may then mistreat other women because of the way this woman treated him and that this cycle will become an ever widening ripple until there are no unscarred people left in the world, only the wounded. And one day he will fall in love with one of the wounded and be wounded himself. It happens to all of us. I am married to a wounded woman. She is married to a wounded man. We still wound each other. I will teach him that the challenge will be to stop it right there, to not pass that hurt along. I will tell him that his Dad wasn't able to do that for many years but he has to be stronger than I was. Because every woman that I have ever hurt, whoever loved and trusted me only to be used and discarded, still haunts me. I can't get their faces out of my head. That in the end, I became the most wounded of them all.