Gentlemen, are we pathological? The consistency with which we violate the minds and bodies of women is so predictable; you can damn near set your clock to it. In fact, I’ll argue that any man who disagrees with this hasn’t faced the true work. The blood on our hands is undeniable, and often…literal.
To believe I thought myself among the “Good Ones” seems laughable to me, now. I convinced myself that because I always ask for and obey consent, I’ve never beat a woman, never raped, never left any fatherless kids out there, because I am very kind and conscientious to the women in my life, that somehow I had the authority to address the male of the species on ally ship. I mean, I’m a poet for crying out loud.
And that was just my problem; good with words – in fact too good. So good, I flat-out tricked myself. The vice of half-truth telling and emotive lies hid even from me the breadth and depth of what I had become, and my relationship was broken because of it. Sifting through the pieces, I wondered why we try to live in the worlds we create in other people’s heads.
“But Theo, don’t we all bend the truth a little? What about women’s lies, and their high-heels, wigs, weaves, makeup, and perfect selfie-angles? What makes men’s lies and issues so dangerous?” Well, physical size and strength always plays a part in endangering women, something that you’re taught before you leave middle school. But there’s something even more insidious and dastardly in how men are raised that gives a clue to the pathology in heterosexual, cisgender men of every race.
We men are taught to compartmentalize from an early age. Don’t underestimate how problematic this is. It’s…everything. There is a fracturing of our wholeness that comes with male conditioning. When you’re first tackled on the football field, the first time you get punched in the face, the other boys dare you to cry. Emotional suppression is a badge of honor.
At first there was a good damn reason for this. When men were expected to charge up the hill into enemy gunfire, they couldn’t afford to be in their feelings. Emotions had to be put aside for the war effort. In a society that could draft boys into military service at any moment, the sons of the nation needed a lifetime of preparedness before the battle field.
Add to this that when men fall in love for the first time, it’s usually not with the woman they will marry. Heartbreak visits most of us before we leave high school. To silence the pain, our culture allows and often encourages us to sleep around. We then began to cultivate the practice of having sex while our heart is in a different place. It hurts at first, but then we get used to it. This is a fracturing. Player/Mack imagery and culture then re-enforce this devil-may-care attitude into our social circles. Men indoctrinate other men with the idea that, if they didn’t have feelings in the first place, they wouldn’t have been vulnerable to the gnawing heartache that propelled them into strange women’s beds. Best never feel love, or let a woman in close enough to touch your heart, or else.This in particular is my story, and the source of the deepest schism in my identity and wholeness.
There is a price for all this. We can sometimes live in these separate compartments for long periods of time. After a while, they gain their own momentum. For example, if a guy goes to war for several years, he often divorces himself from his compassion, attention to nuance, feelings of inner peace and wellbeing. We call that, PTSD. But, what happens when these fragments stop talking to each other?
What happens when you have different life activities associated with these compartments? We men get tricked into believing that these fragments don’t leak into each other. We believe these fractures don’t show up, but they do. Compartmentalization is why we think we can hide that violent streak with no therapy. Compartmentalization is why men can have sex with seemingly no attachments. It’s why we think she’ll never find out about the affair, but probably already knows. These are the things that destroy men’s lives over time, and destroy the lives of women who love us.
The only answer is the slow, tedious, painful work of the re-integration of the self. No one gets out of personal work – no one. These separate parts have to be made whole again. These compartments have to start talking to each other. Integration of the self is linked to another word: Integrity. The fracturing of our true selves as little boys endangers us to a living a life out of integrity with our best and whole selves. A person with integrity is literally an integrated person, their compartments’ walls are broken down and talking to each other. A person with integrity knows the universe is an impeccable record keeper, and all of our deeds matter. The closer the picture we project outwardly is to our true selves, the better our time on this planet will be. In fact, integrity and wholeness seem to be the very things life judges us the harshest on. Believe me, the work you do will manifest in due time, and will be encapsulated in one of these two statements: either, “The Bill Comes Due,” or “It All Pays Off.” Trust the process, fellas. It’s real.
Finally, we must face the gauntlet of our “Brotherhoods.” This is arguably the hardest test to overcome. I mean, when other guys are unfaithful, verbally abusive, cat calling, or misogynistic, peer pressure tends to silence the little conscience in our minds that rejects that kind of behavior. Make no mistake. That tiny voice, the one with the compass always pointed north, the one who told you the right way from day one is the voice you will answer to in the end. As gentle as it is before your mistakes, it’s equally as loud and cruel when those mistakes are exposed. Trust me. Do not let your virtue slip away just because life didn’t seem to reward it. Never underestimate that you are a social creature. Your best self is always in danger to being lost to the will of the mob.
In the end, our women are spiritual God-Mirrors, showing us ultimately how well we measure up to our highest potential. If you should see your reflection, and you find it grotesque, disfigured, and unrecognizable, do not run from it. Stand in the fire. Let it consume you. Let it burn away the parts of you that you didn’t need. Let it unwrite the programs that compel you to be your own worst enemy. They’re just programs, and they have run their course. The past cannot be undone, so embrace the future healthy, honest, and the powerful man you are being called to be.