Warning: if you are a human, you may find something objectionable in this post. Oh, well.
The journey to authentic manhood is a long and difficult one. I started in earnest around age 40 and I’m beginning to think and feel that the end of the really painful part is coming soon. I’ll be 61 next month, so a 20-25 year journey is probably average for a male who wants to shuck off his false self and re-emerge with his true self mostly intact.
The hardest part remains accepting the full range of feelings, some of which are guaranteed to rip one’s old, comforting beliefs about “what is a real man” into tiny pieces. For some, it’s moving from a daddy’s son (the violent, macho male) into a loving one. For others, it’s moving from the momma’s boy (an overly gentle pushover) into something more independent and virile. For most, it’s a balancing act where both extremes are rejected in favor of a man who is neither a tyrant or a wimp.
For many men, especially those in a relationship with a strong woman (similar to their strong mother), the challenge is particularly difficult. We want to please our woman, but we risk losing ourselves when we bend over backwards with the “happy wife is a happy life” philosophy that trips up many a good man. I’m not saying that a woman’s needs are unimportant, but no one’s needs in a relationship are more important than our own. Men and women ought to be interdependent, but they risk being forever imprisoned in their false selves when they get wrapped up in a spouse’s needs (or a parent’s, bosses, or child’s needs).
My biggest issue now is shame, perhaps the last and greatest internal obstacle to being the strong and loving man I was meant to be. I’ve moved through many forms of vulnerability and arrived at the door of shame ready to do battle and I can already tell that my inner, critical parent is scared to lose the fight.
Shame (unworthiness) does not go away with a whimper. I’m pretty darn sure it needs to be crushed. It is invulnerable to logic, gentle prodding or loving requests to give up its control of one’s balls. It needs to be told “fuck you” in the strongest of terms.
This does NOT mean that the man confronting his shame will become a monster. No, Shame is the monster. The man needs to become his own hero. He needs to face the voice inside of himself that says, “You are not enough” and say, “Oh, yes I am!” If you’ve ever heard Roger Daltrey’s rock ‘n roll roar on “Love Reign O’er Me” on Quadrophenia, you know this eruption of authentic, raw power.
I’ve gotten close. On my song, “Create Without Caution,” I began to growl and I plan on doing more soon. It’s much more fun and cathartic to rip it up than it is to fall into a puddle of mush. I’ve visited the pool of sorrows and probably will have to go there on occasion, but my need now is to find my inner volcano, the fire that will burn off the shame that has its tentacles around my heart.
Stay tuned for the roar.