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Am I man enough?

Community Member

This is a really uncomfortable subject for me to be raising, one that I have drafted and deleted time and time again after only joining the BB site.As mentioned in my first and only thread I have been diagnosed with PTSD through a military operational triggering event.I have since realised that I have suffered depression and anxiety for 8 years prior to the diagnosis.I am 40 years old and am currently recovering from my second total hip replacement.I am married with 3 kids (6,4 and 2).Whilst I have opened up about my PTSD through this forum,there are other things going on in my mind (likely connected to the PTSD) that I need to get off my chest but feel so embarrassed and fear judgement in doing so.I have discussed this topic with my wife and whilst I do believe her response,I still have self doubt over her overall truthfulness-in her trying not to hurt me further.This is more likely my depression stopping me from seeing her truth,yet I am still suffering deeply with a lack of self confidence regardless of what she tells me.With all that has happened after my PTSD I don't feel like a strong man to her and now doubt I ever was even before.By this I mean physically more so than emotionally.We have been married now 12 years and I know she had a lot of partners before me and as a result of my PTSD,subsequent depression and recent hip surgeries I have zero self confidence in being her man.Without embarrassing myself to tears I feel inadequate in all departments of being a man anymore.I feel I fail her as a man both physically and mentally.

Mentallly comparing myself to what my wife's previous partners must've been like and the thought that I am nowhere near the man she had or wants is killing me.Before spilling my guts to her quite unintentionally I spent months without sleep,having horrible thoughts and visualisations-this all on top of fighting daily triggers and flashbacks of my PTSD.I am on ADs and seeking therapy for my PTSD,however this other somewhat embarrassing issue is really crushing me and it is something I find hard to raise in discussions with my wife again or even begin to talk to with my therapist-due to the fear of ridicule,embarrassment or the fact of being seen pathetic.Help,advice really needed. Ta.

108 Replies 108

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Navy Blue, thanks for deciding to post your comment, as I too have had three hip operations, where the second one didn't work so a total hip was done, but your involvement in the military has well and truly taken it's toll on you, which I'm so sorry but also thank you for the effort you had to do.

It doesn't matter one bit about her other partners she had, because their personality obviously clashed and that's why they're not still together.
The same happens with males as it does for females, they always talk about the body of someone else, that's been happening for years and it won't stop.
Imagine if you were with a group of your mates wouldn't you all comment on how a female looks, of course, well it's no different when a group of females are together, don't they talk about the physique of a male, yes and that's what happens.
If you are happily married then you both accept eachother's body, you can't change her figure and she can't change the size of yours, but when you are being intimate it doesn't matter.
Try not to make this an issue, it can't be changed, because you both got married as you were, and at that time nothing mattered because you were in love.
I am wondering whether you are afraid of performance so
does it happen to go a bit deeper than this and I'm not including your PTSD which I really hope you can get on top of, but these two issues could be combined.
Hope to hear back from you. Geoff.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Navy Blue,

I'm really sorry to read of the suffering you have endured due to the career path you have chosen in life. Three hip operations! Hopefully you are doing a lot better now physically.

Geoff has shared some great comments with you. It is not always easy communicating about sexual issues. We all have the body parts we were born with, apart from operations and procedures, there is little we can do about the more intimate parts of our anatomy.

Ten years ago my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. At that stage I was still dreaming and hoping for our first live child to be born. Due to the cancer, (and my own medical issues) that dream was not realised.

My husband coped by shutting himself away from me. We now have separate bedrooms and he calls us friends.

I guess he had his own demons to fight. I tried talking to him about how he was feeling, but he just closed down even more. I learnt to love and care for a totally different person. He still does not like me to even touch his arm let alone hold hands.

It breaks my heart that he has shut me out so much. Friends have asked why don't I leave and find someone better. He is my husband. I would be so immensely happy if he would just give me a hug or let me snuggle up to him on the lounge. But he doesn't.

Over the years I have had to learn to accept myself and change the things I can change and live with the rest to the best of my ability.

Can the children have a sleep over somewhere so you and your wife can have a night alone?

Cheers, from Mrs. Dools

Hello Mrs Dools, thank you for your insightful response.Reading what you have been through and endured just makes my issue seem pathetic.I am sorry to have bothered you.Like my therapist said most of my thoughts of inadequacies, my low self esteem and insecurities come from my PTSD.I deal with triggers daily,I hate the smell of diesel,meat cooking and any loud screams - even kids screaming in a supermarket can set me off. The sense of failure as a man of not being able to do enough that day,I guess has left me feeling not strong enough as a man.

My subsequent hip,surgeries haven't helped my self esteem either!The socially pressured view seems to be that a strong man must have no fear or show emotional sadness.Not a day goes by where I don't cry,don't think about maybe there was something I didn't do,or there was something I did wrong in not being able to save those children and people.I have sourced counselling for PTSD and it is helping slowly.

But I am guessing the fact I feel small is because I failed as a man to protect those poor people on deployment.I am so over protective of my children as of what happened on deployment -if I smell diesel or there is a car that back fires when I am with them-I go into a state of panic and get them to a safe place, even though there really is no danger.

Maybe I take my perceived failures as not being man enough from failing and direct it or compare it to societies instilled view to me that women judge a mans strength and success by their penis size, or how big their muscles are or how tall they are...

Unlike Geoff suggested performance is not an issue,thankfully,I have enough on my plate without that extra worry - it is just a distinct lack of self confidence in adequacies of being a strong enough man and a need for constant reassurance from my wife that what happened that day was not my fault.I need to hear I am a strong man and she feels safe and fulfilled with who I am.

After 15 years of active service I am not ready to return anytime soon.At one stage I was suicidal as I was unable to connect/open up WRT my PTSD with my wife.I stupidly associated this with lack of being man enough  - and she can see right through my failings. Run out of characters will continue on new post..sorry

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Navy Blue, we done on the post - took a heap of courage to do that so well done.

You will never ever be judged on this forum, you will be ever be criticised for posting questions that you want answers or advice nor will you be ridiculed. It is a supportive environment and we will do our best to assist where we can.

PTSD drains all of your self worth and confidence. Many of the feelings you have explained i went through as well. Although i'm not quite at the place i want to be, i am building it back up.

In time and with the right treatments, you will get your mojo back. Time mate, it just takes time. Like other mental health conditions, recovery from PTSD cannot be done quickly.

Stay in the game mate, you will be fine.



Continued... I won't bore you any longer with this likely trivial insecurity that I have only recently inherited. I just want my life back the way it was.I know it will never be quite the same with these 2 titanium rods in either hip but I need my self confidence back,I need to feel like a man again but I just want for my wife to keep loving and desiring me.I need to feel strong and able to emotionally engage with my children - and for the love of god let them be children without me constantly worrying.

My deployment and PTSD has taken so much away from me and distanced me so far away from my lovely family.Everyday is a struggle for me to put on a happy face for my children and carry on, to look my wife in the eyes and try to see that she still sees me as a man and desires me, even though I failed whilst away and that I relive that traumatic haunting failure daily.

🤔 Thanks for putting up with this ramble. Besides the seriousness of my PTSD issues,this subject thread is pathetic,I apologise for wasting readers time. I feel so stupid posting it but may be it can give someone a good laugh.Not sure I can face the forum world after letting this cat out of the bag... Thank you anyway, yours humiliated Navy Blue

Community Member
Hi Mark, thank you for your support. I just finished a part two post in reply to Doolhof and felt so embarrassed by it all, so pathetic that I felt I should just crawl back into my hole and no longer post such personal and emotional issues. Then your post came in...As much as I hate myself as a man right now and as much as I fear women or even men see me as weak,insecure and small, I will keep on trucking...I can still see even if it is heavily clouded at times - I have so much to live for. I love my children and would give anything to keep them safe and feeling loved. Anyway thank you for keeping me active on the site when I was seconds away from deleting my account. You're a good Aussie bloke, cheers D

Hi and welcome Navy Blue;

I've read thru your thread with intensity. I can't compare as a man, but I can as a fellow PTSD traveller.

Firstly I want to say; "Thankyou for your service; as a man as well as a defence force soldier."

Next I want to put forward; you will never be the same person again; this is definitive. Wanting to go back and change things, taking 'blame' off the shoulders of others or trying to gain what you feel you've lost, is part of the PTSD roller-coaster.

All individuals have to change and grow with age. Our bodies morph under the influence of gravity and time. But what lies beneath becomes wiser thru experience and knowledge gained from 'life'; whatever the realm.

In my view, the insecurities you have as a man are comparable to those of a woman, just with gender influences as a differing factor. AM I ENOUGH? Who are we asking this of? Who are we comparing ourselves to? These questions aren't gender specific. They're from people who've been significantly damaged thru unimaginable circumstances.

I cannot imagine what you've gone thru, and you couldn't imagine what it's like to be violently raped, sexually abused as a little girl, catching a friend sexually abusing your 2 yr old boy and deal with his night terrors for yrs alone, be rejected over and again from people you've loved deeply or cope with 7 yrs of bullying in the workplace until it broke you. There is no way to compare.

Pain is pain, and fear is fear. What binds us can be our ability to survive and move into the next phase of our life with courage and determination. It is a long road my friend and not for the faint hearted. You have proven your worth time and again; you're still here and pushing the boundaries. You've sought help and are gaining the resources to heal and recover. This is in itself a mighty effort!

In regards to your wife? I know from experience that 'believing' those who supported me had to occur. Trauma depletes our sense of self. Positive people and their words of encouragement are 'gold' in our recovery. Take them with gratitude; it isn't like that with everyone. What you consider a man's worth, may be related to media, generalised statements of bragging or marketing crap. When you breach the surface of any man or woman, they have the same concerns. Am I enough? Have you ever considered your wife may be having the same doubts?

I consider myself a warrior; a fighter, as you are too.

Keep talking to us..Sara (hugs)

Dear Navy Blues,

My heart goes out to you big time. As Mark wrote, this is a very understanding and compassionate place to be, a safe place to share how you are feeling, to express how crap life is at times and also to share the glimpses of happiness.

There is no way I can ever imagine the pain you feel after the traumas you have experienced. I wrote what I did not to in any way belittle your experiences but to let you know that in some small way I have some understanding of the way a man desires to be a man.

As Sara has also mentioned, people go through all kinds of traumas in their lives. Is one trauma any bigger or more significant than another? I believe if they cause trauma then they are all significant.

You write so very well. Have you thought of writing out your experiences? Has that been suggested to you by counsellors or would it all just be far too horrific to face?

A couple of years ago I started to write about my pregnancy losses. It helped to a certain extent. It took the edge off the pain.

Once again I will never know what you have been through. You sound like a deeply caring kind of guy. The things you have seen are experiences I would not wish upon anyone.

I care for you and all that you are experiencing. Other people here care as well. Please never think that you are a burden to anyone here. Your posts are not pathetic, they are deeply moving. You do not need to feel humiliated. I feel deeply humbled by reading your post and Sara's as well.

Please remember that answers do not come through immediately on the forum. People may have responded to you, the posts might just be taking time to come through.

To me, you do not seem weak at all, but amazingly courageous to share your story.

Some of us share cyber hugs on the forum. I'm not sure if you are into hugs or not, but I send you one anyway.

We are here to listen and to care, cheers from Dools

Hey Mrs D!

What a beautiful response...just lovely.

Hi again Navy Blue;

The caring words of Mrs Dools can be reiterated by all our amazing champions and regular posters on BB. We care deeply for those who have the courage to seek support, as well as those that prefer to just read. Your post is very individual and is taken as such with sensitivity and respect. It'd be nice if you could allow yourself the same sentiments...yes?

You say you felt pathetic writing your post, but you pressed the reply button. (BTW, I've never met one pathetic person) I take this as a cry for help from someone who needs to be heard and validated. I'm here for you; we're here for you ok?

My previous response may have come across as a bit straight laced, but to me, PTSD is an insidious disorder that infiltrates the very soul of a person...indiscriminately. It angers me to know intelligent and relevant people like yourself are affected so drastically. Personally, I've been to hell and back and would never in a million years criticise or belittle anyone suffering its affects.

Of the many issues faced by me, sexual identity and loss of faith in this realm, took a nose dive due to my ex rejecting me sexually for nearly 3 yrs. I've recently realised the gravity of that situation; my body stopped working the way it's supposed to. Due to not having another relationship, and the time lapse since personal pleasure was experienced, I'd forgotten what it felt like - 'and so did my body'.

Our nervous systems create physical abnormalities from anxiety and depression that mimic the brain's idea of 'normal'. Being rejected for so long and believing I was unlovable, my brain became accustomed to the idea and my body followed suit.

Your feelings of inadequacy won't change unless you convince yourself it's false. Otherwise, you may end up worse off. What you believe or think, affects your brain chemistry. That's why it's so important to 'believe' the supportive words of those around you and to pump yourself up with positive self talk and mindfulness, even if it feels like 'pretending' to begin with. Your brain doesn't know the difference.

Practice makes perfect...Sara xo