Friday, March 25, 2011

My first shit-test

The first time I felt the need to separate myself from my mother's influence I was eleven. Growing up I was a voracious reader and it was common for me to read a book per day. Over the years I found many favorites, many full of violence and adventure. This fed my already overactive imagination and as a result I had the desire to create stories of my own. One night I grabbed a notebook and started writing. I did not get very far. It was late and I did not know the first thing about moving a story forward. If I recall, I finished about three hand-written pages before writer's block set in and I went to bed. Despite my lack of ability, it was very important to me that I succeed. I wanted to write a whole novel, as good as the novels I read all the time. I wanted to create. Most importantly, though I did not know why, I had to keep my effort an absolute secret.

A few days later I found my mother going through my stuff. She was reading the few pages I had written and was full of praise for it. She loved it. I, on the other hand, became upset. I did not cry or throw a tantrum. Rather, I was at a complete loss for words. I tried to express that now that she knew about it, I could not finish the story. While she thought that it would help me to praise my work, what I just could not explain was that I was not trying to get any praise. I simply wanted to create something important. At some point my confused babbling got through to her and she realized that I was upset and she apologized. For what, I doubt she knew. What she never found out was that I never even tried to finish the story. I did not know it at the time but my need for privacy came from an instinctive need to become independent of my mother's influence.

This pattern occurred several times as I tried to become a man. I would become interested in doing something, frequently with a great deal of significance to me, and I would be determined to follow it through to the end. Then I would foolishly tell my mother and for some reason I would lose all desire to finish. After a while I noticed the pattern and tried not to tell her my goals but my need for approval was too strong and I would eventually tell her everything. As a result it became very difficult for me to commit and follow through on anything.

What I did not know was that I was looking for approval from the wrong place. At a certain age a boy be needs to be removed from his mother to begin learning from his father. This never happened for me. As far as I can tell I does not happen for many men. In Wild at Heart John Eldredge claims that every man has a 'wound' where he did not receive approval from his father. The statistics over at tell a similar story. The need for approval from a father seems to be very important in a man's life.

I did not receive approval or guidance from my father. He was absent, not in body but in mind. He was never really aware of me. He was always lost in his own world. I waited for years for him to realize that I needed him to show me how to become a man, once going so far as to tell him that I needed him to show me. He never did. Eventually I stopped waiting. I simply decided that if he would not take responsibility for guiding me, then I would have to learn on my own. Because of this he has no say about my life and I refuse to ask for or take advice from him. Because that need can so easily sabotage my life I have closed that door to him. He cannot get that relationship back without asking for it.

I know that not getting approval from my father had a significant effect on me, but what about looking for approval in the wrong place? Since I did not receive it from the correct person, how did getting it from my mother affect me? Why did it affect me that way?

A common topic on the Game blogs and forums is the concept of the shit-test. A woman challenges a man, often in a manipulative way, to determine if he is capable of standing up to her. Passing it then increases her attraction. This is behavior that skilled men recognize and understand. While we know that it effects the woman by increasing her attraction, what is not often talked about is the efforts a man has to go through to be able to pass those tests. He must have an ego, bolstered by success, strong enough to not be shaken by her efforts to topple him. It takes a lot of effort to get to that point. Becoming a man is difficult work and being able to pass those tests is testament to that work. Even if the only work he has done is to learn to recognize and respond to shit-tests, it still takes effort and practice. The challenge of becoming a man is as important as succeeding at the challenge. If it is not hard it does not provide a chance for growth. Men know this and do not give approval unless it is earned, which makes earning it a real accomplishment. Unfortunately, I received approval from my mother, who gave it regardless of whether I had earned it.

Because I received unconditional approval from my mother, I rarely felt the need to do anything challenging. When I did feel the need to prove myself I would go talk to my her about it and she would praise me for even having the idea. She was proud of me no matter what I did. It had more to do with the fact that I was her son than any real accomplishment. I would get approval from her without having to do anything except say that I wanted it.

This was my first shit-test. My mother gave approval even though I did not need it from her, and I did nothing to discourage her. What she did not know was that I had to earn approval to feel good about myself; in other words I do not need self-esteem, I need self-respect. I passed the test by ending the relationship. I stopped looking for approval from her. I began acting without concern for what she thought or felt. I took responsibility and stopped using her to feel better about myself. Every shit-test is to determine whether the man is willing to act without concern for what the woman thinks. With my mother, if I cared about what she thought, her every fear, worry, and insecurity became mine. This was paralyzing. It became absolutely necessary for me to stop seeking her approval. She may not have been shit-testing me to determine my fitness, but what she was doing was keeping me from ever being able to prove myself. So I broke up with my mother and pulled away from her influence. Now, I no longer talk to her unless I am visiting the family. I avoid prolonged contact so that I can break that habit of seeking for approval. I suspect that this attitude will be necessary to some degree for the rest of my life but I cannot do anything else. Becoming a man is simply too important to concern myself with the way my mother, or any woman, is feeling.


Hughman said...


...this describes me me to a tee.

My dad was absent in mind. Anything my mother decided to praise me for, it turned to shit.

I almost failed my exams. My saving grace was me going for med school - my mom wanted me to be a lawyer or a banker.

It's why I do adrenaline sports. Why I turned to Game (because she wants me to be a good little mangina white knight)

JK said...

Vox, Is this blog for real? Talk about snowflakes navel gazing.

RobertT said...

That's funny JK. Give it some time, it'll be fine. You have to admit that Susan Walsh post about shit tests was great. You have to stay alert because you never know what those crafty little brats are up to.

Anonymous said...

pathetic to say the least

Joseph Dantes said...

For those of you having trouble with the definition of "snowflake," here it is from Solomon II:

"the term “snowflaking” quite a bit to describe the actions of the typical modern woman when she attempts to portray herself in the best light possible. Whether it be as an innocent sweetheart worthy of a man’s emotional and financial commitment, or a unique individual who should be exalted above the woefully average masses, women truly think they’re the one and only."

CSPB said...

Introspective posts revealing past difficulties require courage to post and help other men.

Those that trivialize or mock such posts may be motivated by their own fear of introspection, which would reveal areas needing work.

DJ said...

RM, Good post, I think all we non-ALPHA's suffer from caring what others think. and it is paralyzing. The alpha doesn't seek others approval, he just leads, then postures with language and behavior which causes others to follow. The sigma truly doesn't give a rat's exterior sphincter about what others think, so plows on his path regardless.

Your mother stole your dragons (nate's post) because she didn't want you to get grass stains. Mom's read this and pay attention! Don't do this to your crumb snatchers.

ABlackGuy said...

This article really hit home for me. I think this is why I've given up on so many of my goals. I would tell my mother about them, receive praise, and then lose all motivation to follow through. It why I now keep most things to myself.

"I do not need self-esteem, I need self-respect." I have to remind myself of this every day.

The LP 999/Linda said...

Chill JK. It is men expressing themselves and walking through their logic on life. We can label this post many things but we should encourage expression of this sort.

Good for RM on this process :). Not that you'd need my input, just offering positivity over negativity.

Theological Discourse said...

You shouldn't completly disregard what others think of you. Admiration of others is a very powerful tool.

Theological Discourse said...

Oops, change that to admiration *from* others. Stupid autocorrect.

damaged justice said...

Any woman who does this to her offspring is not a mother, and is engaging in child abuse.

revrogers said...

damaged justice: "child abuse"


Please. Do not degrade the concept of abuse to what average mothers do.

Also, there are good insights here, but it is going too far to conclude

"Becoming a man is simply too important to concern myself with the way my mother, or any woman, is feeling."

Full manhood will allow women to be women, and mamas to be mamas, neither caving in to them nor dismissing them. True wisdom and manhood does not fearfully give in to the frenzied whims of women but neither does it protectively ignore or dismiss the feminine perspective. True wisdom and manhood evaluates all things, discerns the good, dismisses the chaff and proceeds in confidence and responsibility.

Automatic dismissal of a women's feelings and thoughts can be an indication of pre-emptive cowardice. True manhood knows that some wisdom does come through women at times, but filtered through masculine lenses that have been tempered with what I would say, biblical wisdom (which, by the way, is portrayed metaphorically in feminine imagery but without de-masculinization).

damaged justice said...

"Do not degrade the concept of abuse to what average mothers do."

So in your world, if the majority does something, that means it's fine and dandy. Glad we got that settled.

revrogers said...

damaged justice,

Did you read what he described that she did?

"going through my stuff"

Was it rude? Probably. Was there genuine concern by the mother for indications of a troubled mental state on his part thus necessitating (debatable issue of necessity of reading) a parental investigation? The narrative gives no indication. From what I read here, I conclude that she was rude and ignorant of what her male child needed in terms of encouragement.

But "abuse"? Please. As a general principle, children own NOTHING with the caveat that they do possesss an inherent right to own a personal modesty especially when it comes to sexual contexts (nudity, especially when they can care for themselves with regard to toileting and bathing).

Child ownership of stuff is always contingent. Wise parents will be judicious and careful in taking steps that intrude into privacy matters with regard to writings, but the sheer reading of stuff is not "abuse" but unwise and rude and unproductive and stupid with regard to this situation.

This line of commenting may go too far off track with regard to this blog, so say what you will and I leave my point with what I say above.

zoegirl said...

@damaged justice,
Why are you attacking the mother? The deeper problem here is with his father. RM's mother was just over-nurturing and possibly (but not necessarily) disrespecting his privacy. A present father not only challenges his son in a proper way, but also informs his wife of what she needs to do to be a good mother to their son.

Josh said...

"broke up with my mother?"


Wendy said...

Mothers and fathers should complement and balance out each other. The problem was the lack of fathering to balance out the nurturing mother, not the mother. She just didn't understand boys...but then she isn't one.

SarahsDaughter said...

@Zoegirl, I completely agree. Recently I was questioning my son on the ride home from his first Civil Air Patrol meeting, bombarding him with questions on how it went, what happened when yadda yadda. When we got home my husband informed me that should I continue to question him in that manner, all I'll get is "I don't know...not much...I don't remember" answers. He suggested I give the boy some time to process what just happened and leave him the hell alone until he's ready to inform me (you know, side by side conversation). A present father is so instrumental in raising boys. I would suck as a single mom and am so thankful to have a husband that'll instruct me on how to be a good mother.

Desert Cat said...

Looks like RM's Omegatude is making some of you squirm. A little uncomfortable seeing it from their eyes, hm?

Josh, what is your point? Isn't that pretty much the definition of where he's *starting* from? Skip over his posts if it makes you that uncomfortable.

damaged justice said...

I consider it mental abuse if you fail to raise your child to properly deal with reality.

Josh said...


I just find the whole idea of "breaking up" with one's mother to be weird.

Along those lines, several months ago a friend of mine announced with great drama that she was "friend-dumping" her gay friend andrew. I also thought that was strange.

ox said...

Give me a break. It's my mothers fault? It's my father's fault? Dude, I would do two things.
#1. Get your testosterone levels checked. Plastic has a deleterious impact on male development.
#2. Get right with God and become what you were designed to be. This will ensure that you prevail over every adversity or obstacle and heal your soul.
What pisses me off about your article is that the dynamics you describe are really either an excuse for laziness or fear that you really aren't a man. All I hear is secular psychology and brain washing. If you are having an identity crisis for God's sake claim it and deal with it. You my friend have an exciting journey ahead. The answers to your dilemma can be found. They won't be if you keep blaming others...or yourself. Your analysis of the situation belies you. It says more about your own weaknesses than those of your parents. It is not their fault. They probably really do love you fool. They're just not perfect. There hasn't been a perfect parent since the fall of man. The problem is intrinsically within each of us. Escape that and you will be free of the need for self worth.

Josh said...

Ox, that was strong. Good stuff.

DJ said...

@Ox, I didn't get the "It's my mothers fault? It's my father's fault?" from the post, but rather, "Hey these knuckleheads are my biological parents and I am finally learning and moving on from the stupid crap they fed me, if you went through similar notice it and wake up."

Your advice is sound for anyone.

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