I use to think it was a sign of strength to never cry. I felt that it was the hallmark of manhood to not show any emotion save for anger. And even though deep down my heart was bruised and bleeding, my false pride kept my eyes from shedding any tears. I didn't know at the time that this stoicism was not strength but rather unconscious armor covering up a deep wound. All I knew was that there existed a chaos within me which I couldn't deal with, and so I focused my attention almost exclusively on the outside world. As such I lived my life almost entirely "from my head", unless of course I was being driven by egoic conquest or animal lust. This way of living, if you could call it that, meant that I was largely disconnected from the world of my heart, and this disconnection allowed me to rationalize my wounded ego's actions which often caused pain to those who loved me the most.
When I had to face the fallout from my unconscious behavior, I literally could not believe that my hurtful actions really warranted the intense emotional reactions from my loved ones. What's even worse is that seeing them cry would often illicit anger in me rather than compassion; I just couldn't own up to the pain I had caused, so I made excuses and deflected responsibility. I even blamed the ones I had hurt, foolishly believing that they were too sensitive or just overreacting. I carried on this way through my adolescence and early adulthood, never developing the capacity to take responsibility for the pain I caused others. Although the truth is I didn't hurt all of the people in my life, I did hurt those who were the closest to me in one way or another, simply because they were there and the ghosts who haunted me were nowhere to be found.
Like an infant learns to walk, I instinctively learned to shut the door to the pain of my childhood, and when something within or without threatened to open that door I was quick to close it right back up in any number of ways. The means and methods which were employed to shut the door to my wounding were primarily unconscious, and although they masked my pain they became increasingly destructive as I grew older, taking on a greater toll in my life and the lives of others. Most of these defenses operated under my conscious awareness, such as in the way I related to the world. From being in a constant state of irritation and outrage by all that I perceived as wrong with others and the world at large; to being angry at others for their perceived shortcomings; to being addicted to working out at the gym and the resulting self-absorption about my "gains"; to selling drugs and accumulating money which gave me a false sense of power; and on to abusing alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, and all of them together to escape into a false paradise which eventually became a prison.
I was the embodiment of the wounded masculine and I was trapped in unconscious cycles of thought, feeling, and behavior, until life humbled me and forced me to my knees. Little by little I came to know myself more deeply, and slowly began to face the darkness within me. Yet as I would restrain my defense mechanisms and peel back a layer of ego, I would often find myself feeling overwhelmed by emotions I couldn't handle. Being triggered by the pain in me I would instinctively return to unconscious patterns of behavior which offered me temporary reprieve from emotions I didn't have the resolve to face, but at the expense of being nailed to the cross of shame and further ensnared in self-criticism and hopelessness. Through many cycles of rising and falling, rising and falling, I grew so desperate that eventually I cried out to a God I had never believed in and even mocked, and by God's mercy I was shown infinite compassion through transforming grace.
It wasn't in a church that I found salvation but through learning lessons in the school of life and finally through my mystical awakening in which I was baptized by the Holy Spirit and reborn to a new life. From that point on I had within me an unshakable resolve to learn, to heal, to grow, and to serve. I sought to know myself more deeply than I ever imagined possible, and with God supporting me my heart opened in full trust and vulnerability. Then I was able to face the monsters in me; to unearth and heal from buried shame; to grieve losses I didn't even know impacted me; to forgive those who were blind and filled me with their poison, and forgive myself for filling others with mine. Through this process I opened myself to the consuming fire of love and it is this fire which continues to burn within my heart, illuminating shadows and bringing light to inner and outer darkness.
My path through darkness is what gives me the inner authority (which I understand may very well be perceived as gall or ego) to say to all my brothers out there who are still struggling with inner demons, it is time we break down the walls which prevent us from sharing with one another about our pain, shame, anger, fear, and all else which keeps us locked in a private prison. We must be brave enough to accept that sometimes we need help to get to the next step in our process and trust that this is 100% OK. Our modern societies lack a strong connection to spiritual elders as sources of wisdom and guidance, as well as the rites of passage which help to initiate us into true conscious masculinity. This is a big reason why we are witnessing so much war, violence, aggression, sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children.
If we wish to help the world it begins with our inner world, and a big step in our process is facing our wounds which often requires guidance from others who know how to traverse the territory. You can reach out to me or anyone else you feel called to, but reach out to someone if you know in your heart that you need guidance! Often it is those we have strong reactions to that may very well have the medicine we need. I know that I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the help I received from the elders God guided me to. Wishing all the men out their courage to face what they must face, and to love themselves enough to heal.