Sunday, February 8, 2015

Male Intimacy

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I am currently pondering the potential value of participating in a program that would provide me some additional resources, skills and support to further enhance my journey of healing.  I have a follow up appointment scheduled for this coming Wednesday in which I hope to complete the intake process and make a decision.  I feel some fear about jumping into this program.  I also feel some fear about not jumping into this program.  I believe the program could prove worthwhile.

Lately it seems as if I spontaneously do some sort of cost-benefit analysis in my mind whenever I contemplate making a significant decision.  The program in question would require an eight week commitment from me.  That doesn't strike me as an immense commitment to make.  I believe I am finding commitments of all sorts easier to undertake because I no longer engage in black and white thinking as much as I once did.

One of my primary life goals I want to consciously focus upon is enhancing my ability to cultivate meaningful, joyful, long-term friendships and other relationships.  And I specifically want to improve the quality of the relationships I have with other men.  This is partly due to the fact that I am a gay man.  I also want to improve my relationships because I simply want to become a healthier human being.

Put quite concisely my current intentional therapeutic journey began due to issues I have with my biological father.  As I have recounted elsewhere in this blog I became quite ill in 2013 shortly after my return from a trip to Germany I made in May, 2013.  At first it was very difficult to understand what I was experiencing.  I was experiencing a variety of symptoms.  I ultimately needed a number of weeks for my body to heal from what was most likely a respiratory infection.  Other symptoms led me to reenter psychotherapy.  And now here I am some twenty months later.  I am thankful that I have no terminal illness.  I still have a chance at a brighter future.

I needed my father to be present to me in my time of grief back in 2013.  At the time I felt sick with grief due to the fact that I was mourning the reality that my birthmother now has a degree of dementia.  My visit to my mother triggered a reawakening of the old grief I had never properly processed from the time I lost her as a very small boy.  I needed my father to bear witness to my pain and comfort me.  But he could not and did not.  And when he failed to be present to me in a time of deep personal pain and sadness I felt disappointed, frustrated and very angry.  I felt that he had failed me yet again.

Looking back on the life I have lived so far it is not at all surprising that I have issues with men.  My paternal family of origin consists of what I believe to be some deeply wounded men.  I see this as being true of my father.  And I also believe this is true of my father's younger brother.  I believe they both would present with criteria associated with PTSD if they were to submit to an appropriately designed mental health screening and actually be honest about how they feel.  But I doubt they would ever do that.  They seem to believe that hiding, burying and avoiding pain is the best way to deal with pain.  My decision to live what some might call 'a life of radical honesty' runs deeply counter to the conditioning I received as a child.

I find it so very sad that distorted conceptions of manhood run amok in American society.  The reasons for this are likely quite numerous and not necessarily easily disentangled and made sense of in one sitting, one day or one blog posting.  Even professional social workers, sociologists, psychologists, historians and cultural critics can regularly find themselves perplexed by aspects of the world they dedicate their lives to exploring.  I know I certainly have my own current of confusion within my psyche.  I sometimes look around the world outside my skin and bones and ask myself some very probing questions.  Some of my questions include:

  • Where do some men get these ideas of manhood that they use to define who they are?
  • Why is being a man so often associated with acquisitive behavior, domination, the subjugation of minorities, entitlement and violence?
  • Why do men think that showing vulnerability and fear is a sign of weakness?
  • Why are some men absolutely terrified to cry?
  • Why won't men treat themselves and women better?
  • Why won't men take a more active role in the protection and stewardship of the planet for the sake of future generations?
  • Why do men find fighting, violence and the complete annihilation of other people to be so sexy?

I do not entertain the unrealistic hope that I am going to find the answers to these and other questions on one February Sunday.  And yet I nonetheless am willing to keep trying to be a better man for my own sake and for the sake of those who are a part of my world.

The consequences of unaddressed men's issues can be quite ghastly.  For example, in my own personal experience, I have decided I never again want to see my father unless we somehow resolve the longstanding issues of my earlier life history such that we both are satisfied with the outcome of an effort to resolve them.  Do I believe this is possible?  Yes.  Do I believe it will happen?  I don't believe it is likely.  I believe it's quite likely that my father will remain resolute in his stubbornness until the day he dies.  I cannot change him any more easily than he can change me.

I feel immense sorrow that I am estranged from my father.  It doesn't have to be this way.  But I believe in the possibility of something better.  I am stubborn that way.  I will not accept deceit, avoidance and scapegoating as acceptable adult behavior.  I feel very disappointed that my father has become the man he is.  But I can choose to be a different and better man.

I want to be a better man.  I just need to find other men who are committed to the very same journey of self empowerment.  I know they exist.  I have met them before.  And I believe I can find them again.

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!