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Afraid of large men, what to do about it
10 replies to this topic
Posted 02 November 2019 - 09:22 AM
This is from a childhood of abuse. My stepfather was a large man. Tall, broad shouldered. He would use his physical presence to intimidate me. Not touching, just looming like a shark and get in my face.
I’ve noticed that even with therapy, I’m still afraid of men who are bigger than me. Even if they are nice, sometimes especially if they are nice. I have this deep seated anxiety that I can’t dismiss or explain away to myself.
Very often I try and mask this, but I’m not sure how much my anxiety shows. And it’s also annoying that it’s there at all. I can’t watch the Sopranos because James Gandolfini plays an abusive man who throws his weight around like my stepfather did, same with Trump, very often him in TV gives me anxiety.
I’ve talked about this to my psychologist, she suggests talking to calm myself down. But it seems so deep rooted and irrational that I don’t have control over it. But I want to get rid of it as there are men in my life that are bigger than me, and have been very friendly (not in a romantic way) but I feel my anxiety just makes me come across as rude.
Posted 02 November 2019 - 09:49 AM
I don't have any advice, but I can totally see how past trauma can be so insidious in the future.
And fwiw I am not a tiny person, I am strong and fit. I am still wary of random men, especially if I'm alone I out in the world (running/walking etc)
Posted 02 November 2019 - 09:51 AM
I’m not a tiny person either. I have a small frame but I’m fairly tall and fairly strong.
But with men larger than me, I’m like “Why am I feeling like this? He’s being nice to me.”
Posted 02 November 2019 - 10:12 AM
I feel the same way quite often, and I don't have your past. I have noticed those that, generally speaking, some men are aware they can be intimidating and take steps, such as sitting down, so they're not looming over you. I know of other people who enjoy using their bulk to women feel uncomfortable. I avoid those.
I think that ramble is basically too let you know that you're not alone feeling like this
Posted 02 November 2019 - 11:23 AM
Thanks. Many large men I know are gentle giants. It’s as if they’re aware of their large size and do their best to compensate by being nice. One guy I know is over six feet and is a wrestler.
Posted 02 November 2019 - 12:57 PM
It is really hard to overcome past trauma. Sometimes reactions don’t even connect exactly to the trauma so rationalising them might not work. For example after I had an incident where my home was entered but I wasn’t touched (I confronted the person but he didn’t hurt me) I now can’t stand strangers standing next to me and if they touch me accidentally I become irrationally upset. I guess the link is invading my space but the reaction is automatic and unconscious. I’m sorry I don’t have any suggestions- you seem to be doing the right thing by speaking to a psychologist about it. I can only think it’s something you might need to work through by interacting with enough large men to learn they are safe...but you will need professional to help you with this I think. Good luck
Posted 02 November 2019 - 02:01 PM
The thing is, it’s not an irrational fear. It’s grounded in reality. It’s just made worse by your experience.
Is it stopping you from doing the things you want in life? If it is, then it needs further thinking about. Some people find it helpful to name the feeling, (like calling it ‘the crow’) so that when you feel it, you can say hello to the crow. It’s a way of accepting the feeling rather than trying to run away from it. To just sit with feeling anxious/sick/whatever rather than ignore/push away the feeling.
Posted 02 November 2019 - 02:11 PM
My counsellor has told me to stop and ask myself “what do you need to do to feel safe now”. And I do that. It normally means making more space between myself and the person, or putting a barrier in between us, like a chair, or even my arms. I find this helpful.
Posted 02 November 2019 - 02:31 PM
Would you consider a therapy specifically targeted at trauma? EMDR is supposed to have good results, or schema therapy where they use imagery rescripting to construct a 'corrective emotional experience', which is supposed to help with rearranging the emotional associations that linger long after the logical ones are sorted.
In the end that presentation has become a danger signal to you, so you will probably always be somewhat sensitive to it, but maybe it can be reduced somehow if it's disturbing to you. If it's not too intrusive, then what Not Escapin Xmas described can be helpful, and if appropriate even a bit of opposite action - intentionally going against whatever urge that feeling brings up in you - e.g. if it makes you give short answers and move away, go closer and strike up a conversation. Usually our normal reactions are those that will confirm the association in our head, so flipping them around if you can is the thing that will eventually over time disconfirm the association.
Posted 04 November 2019 - 07:38 AM
I’m not sure exactly what to do about the behaviour, so I mask and hide it.
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