When I started this project, I made a commitment that I would be completely open and honest with myself. I committed to leaving no stone unturned in my search as to WHY I feel the way I do and as to HOW I could fix each of the problems.
The focal point of one of the men’s groups that I now attend weekly is RELATIONSHIPS:
Our relationship with God,
Our relationship with ourselves,
Our relationship with others.
We used the curriculum Every Man a Warrior as our guide.
Between the group and still fresh on my mind, recently failed relationships, I could not avoid mining this area first.
And this is my TRUTH. I have never had a completely healthy and/or intimate relationship!
This post has taken me weeks to write because I needed a lot of insight from other people, self-reflection, and research.
So here we go…
As a child, I moved around a lot. With every move, there were new friends that would soon be a distant memory and new homes that would soon be empty. So, I subconsciously learned to never become attached to anything because it would be gone in due time, and this experience gave rise to the belief system that ATTACHMENT EQUALS PAIN.
That combined with the “MANLY” irrational belief systems that were forced upon me that REAL MEN ARE NOT SUPPOSE HAVE FEELING and REAL MEN HAD A LOT OF WOMEN, I would avoid attachments to things and people at all cost.
And not only that, emotions and feelings were never expressed in my household. Please do not get me wrong. My mother never missed a chance to say, “I love you.” She taught me to be STRONG and INDEPENDENT, and she taught me to KEEP FIGHTING, but she could not teach me what she had not been taught–How to deal with my EMOTIONS in a HEALTHY way.
As the educational psychologist, Lev Vygotsky informed us, “All that is learned must be taught.” Without ever being taught, she had herself had never learned; therefore, she could not teach me how to CONNECT WITH OTHERS and deal with loneliness, fear, or hurt because out of necessity, she always had to be STRONG.
I have always depended on me and only me. And if I had to depend on anyone else, it made me feel COMPLETELY WEAK, so I rarely connected with others to avoid ever really having to depend on anyone and having to deal with the pain that comes with it.
So, in relationships with women, I often juggled 3,4,5 at a time. That way there was NO CHANCE of becoming connected or attached.
In our culture, we have been continuously taught to avoid any displays of weakness or be judged negatively. So, we put on a brave FACE, attempt to be SO STRONG, and hide our shortcomings. Since that is what I have seen, and still see to this day, and have been taught, I conformed to the pattern.
We have been so well conditioned to enlist comrades, people who are on our suppose to be on our side no matter what. We run to them with every problem that we have leaving out our wrong doings or shortcomings. We take their STRONG ADVICE not realizing that they are going through the same problem we are and they are also hiding their faults.
I can not tell you how often I see this same pattern among friends that have known each other for ten, twenty, even thirty years.
I now understand that no one is an island. No one can ever be completely whole without being FULLY CONNECTED to other people. We were not made to be alone, and many times we sit alone, wallowing in our shortcomings, our true feelings, our problems from fear of judgment and/or conditioning, and we die internally. Anytime you hold back your true needs, hurts, and fears there is always going to be a sense of emptiness and frustration.
I was recently smacked in face with this truth while I was reading The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud. The author recalls a story of the CEO of a major company who he was brought in to counsel. The CEO on the surface had EVERYTHING TOGETHER, but inside he was torn.
He had multiple women scattered all over the country. He would take the corporate plane and stop in Vegas on business trips and blow thousand of dollars on gambling. He was doing anything he could to fill his sense of emptiness. One day it all came out, and he had to sit in front of the board to explain himself.
That was the turning point of his life. After he explained to the author that he had always thought he had to be strong and he had no one in his life with whom he had ever shared his fears, pains and shortcomings, the author told him to find people he thought he could trust, and anytime he had an internal issue, call them and tell them how he felt.
After doing do for a while, the CEO proclaimed for the first time in his life, he felt ALIVE. He did not have to hide who he was, and each of his relationships with people began growing immensely. He no longer needed THINGS to fill his emptiness.
So in my journey, I will work on my connections with others. I also understand that most people have been conditioned to NOT CONNECT, either at a conscious or subconscious level, just as I have been conditioned.
Even at the cost of pain,
Even at the cost of rejection,
Even at the cost of judgement.
I will strive for intimate relationship.