- Men's Health & Wellness
ABANDONING OUR BODIES
A few months ago, I posted Chapter One, The Endangered Species from my book, currently out of circulation and undergoing revision. I am enjoying the heck out of the revising process and anxious to get it back into circulation which I will do through Create Space.
So enjoy a sneak preview of Chapter Two. Let me know what you think, especially YOU, guys! And, prior to reading Chapter Two, you might want to click on the link above and read Chapter One. In the first paragraph of Chapter Two, I refer to the ancient model of manliness which you can find in Chapter One, but I will spell it out here.
That ancient model of being a “real” man goes something like this.
I am a real man, only if I kill other men and conquer women, whether on the battlefield, in the work place, or on a variety of other "playing" fields. I must sacrifice my sons to the gods of wealth, fame, sex, politics, sports and war! (Taken from Chapter One).
THANKS FOR READING AND COMMENTING.
ABANDOING OUR BODIES
CHAPTER TWO: ABANDONING OUR BODIES
ABANDONING OUR BODIES
What? You want me to feel something? And then what? Cry?
You’re crazy, I can’t do that. Why would I even want to do that?
Feelings are for women and look where it gets them.
If we want to be “manly” and accomplish the manly things in life (according to the ancient model), then we must learn to disconnect from our senses, shut down the emotions, and in effect, abandon our body and soul, sometimes within moments of birth.
Did you know that it was only a few years ago that the medical community acknowledged that an infant DOES feel pain from circumcision? How brilliant of a discovery was that? It hurts any normal person, man or woman, just thinking about it! I mean, come on. You just arrive and whammo! Someone begins slicing off skin from one of the most sensitive parts of your male anatomy. You bet that little fellow is going to abandon his body and soul.
At whatever age we begin to disconnect, the end result is the same. As “growed-up” men, we do not feel what we feel nor know what we know. People who love us and need us the most describe us, at best, as distant or unemotional. At worst, cold and heartless. And get this. Sometimes, we are actually proud of these adjectives. Sadly, it’s our proof that yes, indeed, I am a man.
Yes, when you read it here, it sounds crazy. It IS crazy.
JUST LIKE DAD
So you spend the first eighteen years of your life watching Dad berate Mom and sometimes physically abuse her. Of course, you make up your mind early on that you will not be that way when you grow up. But it’s a forgone conclusion, because you’re disconnected. You cannot witness such terror for eighteen years and stay connected. So, at best, you don’t berate your wife and certainly you don’t beat her up, and you stand on your head to make her happy. I mean you really stand on your head to make sure you’re not like Dad.
BUT, “You’re not emotionally available,” she whines. And God dammit, that pisses you off, but you got to make sure you don’t let her know that, or else you will BE just like Dad. It’s a vicious catch twenty-two.
And it’s like this for all of us. We are so disconnected that we cannot see or cannot let ourselves know that, in too many ways, we are just like him!
If you’re insisting that the above example does not fit your growing up years or your relationship with Dad, or you didn’t have a Dad or you had a step-Dad, just take a deep breath and let yourself acknowledge how it does fit. The good news is our Dad, whoever he is or was, dead or alive, absent or present, wants us to live our life differently, to be a different man than he was. So, it’s okay, really. Keep reading!
NOT THAT KIND OF PERSON
Interestingly enough, we often acknowledge in the way we talk that we are disconnected or have abandoned our body and soul. We say things like, "I really don’t think I said that...I really don’t think I did that...I can't believe I said that...did that...that wasn't me...I'm not that kind of person.”
We sometimes use the phrase "I was beside myself." We further say things like, "I heard myself saying....It was like watching myself....I was just frozen and couldn't say or do anything...I don’t know what came over me...there’s no way it could have happened like that...I would never do something like that."
We even go so far as to actually label some events as "out-of-body experiences." Some of us consciously and actively use alcohol and other chemicals to make sure that we have "out-of-body experiences" on a regular basis.
When we see the look of hurt or anguish on the faces of our children or spouse or partner, we just can’t bear to take it in let alone take any responsibility for it. We readily defend ourselves by shifting the focus. “You’re exaggerating this whole thing...there’s no way it could have been that hurtful...I didn’t mean anything by it...you’re making too big a deal of this....”
WHERE DO I LIVE?
Sometimes, we not only live outside our body and soul, but as we pointed out in the previous chapter, we “steal electricity” from someone else and or actually live inside someone else’s body.
For example, we say things like, “I was feeling really down, and then I saw you, and instantly I feel like a different person.” Stealing electricity from someone else.
Or, “I was feeling just fine till I came home and had to face your bad mood.” Living inside someone else’s body, not being able to hold on to my self.
MY CRYSTAL BALL
Sometimes, we are so much inside other people’s bodies that we actually think we know what they are thinking or feeling, and we constantly let them know that we know. We might as well round out the act and purchase a crystal ball and hang a shingle!
SADLY, when we become this arrogant, we never hear or see what the other person is actually thinking or feeling.
So our lover tells us they got a call that Mom is ill and they’re flying out the next morning. The look on their face tells us how much they are going to miss us and how much they wish we were coming with them for support.
But we get none of it because we are the “expert” in mind reading, and we attack with a most painful outburst. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can see, you’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time. Well, I hope you enjoy being away from me, and I hope whatever it is, you can get it out of your system.” Totally off the mark, but we arrogantly insist we are right.
I ALREADY KNOW....
Or worse, in the process of mind reading, we dismiss our own thoughts and feelings. We say things like “I already know what they’re going to say, so there’s no point saying anything....I already know she’s going to tell me it’s my own fault, so why should I tell her how much it hurts that she won’t have sex with me anymore....I already know that Dad’s going to tell me that I’m blowing it out of per portion so why should I tell him that I can’t get the beatings out of my head....I already know the boss is going to say no, so why even ask the question....I know the teacher is going to put it all back on us as parents, so why even have the conference....I know she’s going to blame it on my drinking, so why even bring up the way her family treats me when they come over for a family celebration....”
SO WHAT IF YOU DO KNOW? YOU'RE A MAN NOW
So what if you do know what they’re all going to say? Knowing what they’re going to say doesn’t mean you have to give up (abandon) your experience and not speak what you have to say. There’s no rule that says I have to TAKE what everyone else thinks and feels and says as fact and not speak anything to the contrary.
You’re right! As a kid, you DID have to take what Mom and Dad said as fact even when it wasn’t. But you’re not a little kid anymore. You’re “growed up.” You’re a man, now. You’re your own man, now. And you’re meant to live inside your own body and have your own thoughts and your own emotions. They’re all yours.
Think about it and stop abandoning yourself.
WHOM DO I LIVE FOR?
Some of us spend our entire life living for some other person: a friend, a lover, a parent, a boss, an ex-spouse. We tune into the almost undetectable changes in that person’s non verbal language in hopes of making them happy, making them love us, making them proud of us, making them sorry they hurt us, making them want to spend time with us. Yet when it comes to our own self, we have no capacity to feel what is going on inside our own mind and our own body and soul. With no capacity to feel goes any hope of being able to self- validate or to self-regulate.
SELF-VALIDATE SELF REGULATE
Yes, self-regulate. You know, having A beer instead of a six pack.
Yes, self-validate. You know, being able to look in the mirror and love the person in the mirror, no matter what I see because it is who I am, at this moment in time, with all my potential and successes and all my limitations and failures. When I never learn to self-validate or self-regulate, I end up not knowing or comprehending what it means to experience myself as precious and lovable. I never know that batting three hundred is a damned good batting average and that batting a thousand isn’t even in the ballpark of reality.
LIVING OUTSIDE MY BODY
When I talk about living outside your body, people are always asking me if I mean that literally or figuratively. Well, I don’t know if there is a difference. Whether a man lives outside his body literally or figuratively, the result is the same. Long before the aging process would account for such transformation, the body explodes, wrinkles, shrivels, becomes rigid and sometimes stale, lifeless, pale, cold, and in some cases, neurologically frozen. For a sizable minority, living outside the body is deceptive, because they work at making their bodies truly fine specimens.
Sadly, many people, and especially men, have become comfortable living outside their body and consequently, disconnected from soul. Many of us do not even realize or care that we have left our body and soul somewhere along life's road like an abandoned car.
When I live outside my body, I behave in ways that seem "normal" to me, so I never question the obvious self-destructive nature of my behavior and my lifestyle. And when someone tries to question me about it, I just have to shrug it off and set them straight.
*I think it’s genetics or a fluke that I have ulcers or problems with my heart. I mean lots of folks have heart attacks. Why do you think it has to do with the way I live my life?
*I am very successful, but never satisfied or happy. So what? I mean it just keeps me from becoming complacent.
*I suppose there could be a connection between my weight loss and diarrhea, and riding my bicycle fifty miles every day, but I’m not convinced.
*I cannot understand why people tell me I look angry when I don't feel angry.
*I’ve never questioned why I feel fidgety around five o'clock each afternoon or why it is so difficult to get up in the morning. Well, when someone implies I drink too much, I don’t know. I am dead sure I don’t have a problem with alcohol. Of course, when I drink, I really drink. Of course, every night!
*Hey, let’s face it. Relationships are a big mystery to everyone, and my inability to hold on to a relationship more than likely is about that big mystery. Why do you go there? Why do you insist it has something to do with me being a ghost or a monster of a man? And what does that mean?
*Of course, I’m employed in a high risk job, but that’s not why my marriage is failing, or why my blood pressure keeps going up, and why I isolate myself when I’m off the job. I mean the same things happen to people who don’t work at all or who are homeless or who have cushy jobs.
*I am a gentleman, No, I’m a perfect gentleman, and very religious. And you tell me why all the people close to me are never happy especially since I do so much to make them happy. What’s wrong with them?
*Well, maybe I am a little disconnected, but I’m certainly not going to blame anyone for that. What’s the point of blaming someone?
*Yes, I did tell you that my father died six months ago, and that my wife wants a divorce, and that my best friend was killed in the line of duty. I told you all of that, I did, but I’ve worked through it all. I don’t see why any of that would make me depressed, angry, sad, and nervous.
*Of course, I have losses, doesn’t everyone? I don’t get this thing you keep trying to tell me. You call it grieving.
*Yes, I will concede that I drink more now than before, but I know I can control my drinking. Well, you’re right, I don’t, but I can.
Throughout this book, we will explore the many ways that we, as men, disconnect, shut down, turn off the electricity, live in the dark unnecessarily, abandon and live outside our bodies, and sometimes, live inside someone else's body. We will also explore the neurological process involved in this phenomenon. More importantly, we will learn simple ways to move back inside our bodies and to heal our souls.
NOW IT IS YOUR TURN
Use this section at the end of each chapter for self exploration and sharing with other men.
1. Find a photograph of yourself when you were eighteen or in your early twenties! Now look in the mirror. Obviously you are older, but notice the physical changes and distortions that have nothing to do with aging.
2. When you look in the mirror, do you recognize your body? Do you like your body? DO YOU FEEL YOUR BODY?
3. As you stand looking into the mirror, notice your feet. Can you FEEL your feet? If not, how do you stand up for yourself? When was the last time you did stand up for yourself? Why did you wait so long? If you cannot feel your feet, how do you know you are standing on your own two feet? If you are not standing on your own two feet, whose feet are they? Whose body are you living in?
4. When you get out of the shower and look into the mirror, what do you say to yourself? When you look into the mirror while shaving, what do you say to yourself?
When most of us look into the mirror, we tend to count zits and blemishes and stare for a long time at our protruding stomach and untuned muscles. We tell ourselves that we are frogs. Then we do this really crazy thing. We turn away from the mirror and look to our lover. And we expect that person to see a Prince.
If you have been skeptical about this idea of living outside your body, here is the proof. You have to be living outside your body to be able to look in the mirror and hate what you see, and then turn around, and expect someone else to love what they see!
5. Make a list of ALL the losses in your life. Go as far back as you can remember. Don’t worry about blaming your past. We will talk about that later. Just make the list. What do you do with all these losses? Bury them? Forget about them? Grieve them? What do you do?