No one ever taught me how to be a Man.
I love my two fathers, my dad and step-dad. I’m truly blessed to have both of these good men in my life. But it was my two mothers (mom and step-mom) who were the strong, orienting leaders in my early life, who held the families together and made sure I always knew everything would be ok.
My dads … well, I never felt them fully present for me. As I look back, I see my moms holding the world together while my two dads seemed to mostly just be holding on for dear life – and mostly to their wives, my mothers.
But I didn’t only grow up with disoriented fathers.
Just like you, I was (and still am) immersed in a world dominated by warped, immature expressions of manhood and masculinity:
Constantly sexualizing women.
Woman-magnet, gun-toting hero-worship.
Power-focused blame-game government politics.
Bullying from every angle.
A win-at-all-costs / winner-take-all competitive ethos.
Anti-feminine misogyny of infinite variety.
Even the offensive words I learned to use as a young boy to assert dominance: bitch, fag, crybaby, nancy-boy, cocksucker, motherfucker. All insults that strike their blow by chopping down the Feminine.
My personal favorite is “pussy.” I figure anything that references the wonder of a woman’s capacity for yielding life should be reserved for only the highest of praise. Yet it’s merely a tool for insult. … us and our misogynistic genital shame.
Generations of western men are in crisis. And we have no idea how to step up with a mature masculinity in our relationships with women.
At 39, I’m only now discovering what this immature masculine ethos has cost me and the women I’ve been in relationship with.
I’ve demeaned my female partners by treating them as emotionally-flawed versions of men.
I’ve run away from them, fed up and disgusted, when they only needed me to stand fast and love them deeply.
I’ve lied because I thought their weaker sensitivities couldn’t handle difficult truth (little did I know I was the one who couldn’t handle it).
I’ve used their bodies for my pleasure and then disappeared quick as I came, so to speak.
I’ve failed my “more feminine” partners in countless heartbreaking ways because no one ever taught me how to be a Man.
I don’t mean details like paying for everything or being the one to get the car fixed or simply opening doors. I don’t believe in fixed and firm rules like this.
I simply mean that no one ever taught me how to show up FULLY PRESENT … AS … A … MAN.
I see so much of it now. My heart still breaks as I look back and see the wake of female wreckage I created in years past. Sure, they had their own growing up to do. Let me not condescend now by suggesting that I – a man – was solely responsible for the experiences of these “poor girls.” Of course not. That’d just be more self-righteous misogyny in disguise … hey … I see you.
Nonetheless, I see so clearly how I failed to show up for the women in my life, over and over and over.
Today, our boys are still in crisis. They commit suicide at a higher rate than girls. They feel isolated and angry. They’re the ones shooting up schools and concerts.
Our girls are in crisis, too.
Indeed, the world is confused as ever.
As we continue to infuse a new generation of boys and girls with the same stunted-growth versions of masculinity and femininity, we remain disconnected from the profound gifts of our wondrous human essence.
Fortunately, we’re collectively grow ever more wise to this tragic deception.
I’m certainly seeing it.
As I near my 40th birthday, the Mature Masculine Man in me is awakening.
And what I’m discovering is not only massive appreciation for the mysterious and untamable Feminine essence in a woman, but also for that same wild Feminine essence in me, too.
What’s more, as the MAN inside me awakens more and more every day, my life’s work transforms.
Which is the most exciting thing about overcoming the “absence of father” and finally learning what it actually means to be a heart-centered, authentic Man in the world:
As I continue to do my inner healing work and overcome the absence of “father,” I’m awakening to an authentic life purpose that finally makes life truly worth living.
But my goodness … how different life would have been had a wise elder man shown me the way so long ago.
Related Post: “Women are not defective Men (and Vice Versa)“
Dear Bryan ! It takes courage to write about this topic! congratulations! You had it in a n interesting and colorful way. Take care! Cris
So pleased to see people talking about this… thanks
Thanks for the acknowledgment, Eloise 🙂
I had a similar journey. Finding oneself post 40. Fatherless, abusive brothers, absent extended family. Having to raise oneself from a dystopian melancholic community. Hindered and unsupported. Now the story is told, predicated in the upcoming book.
interesting. thanks Craig.