Tag Archives: Men’s Issues

Does my Black Dog really answer to the name “Depression”?

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The lake sat beautifully in the afternoon sun; it was late autumn, my favourite time of the year.

I first fell in love in September, when I was sixteen, and if you’ve been fortunate enough to ever feel that and then claim her, you’ll know it’s an unforgettable, indescribable, heart-pounding, rushing joy…

But that was twenty years ago. I’m now thirty-six, and I’m sitting by this beautiful lake with my girlfriend and a pulsating rot in my gut. There must be a medical reason I thought. It must be because I’m with her, I thought. It must be because… And so the whirring began. Creeping up as an oncoming darkness. The last time I’d had a hernia I was making a diving catch in the covers – but this is different. It’s not a hernia. It’s a unique sort of ‘pain’. It languishes in the spreading of its energy; a lost voice, nagging, clouding my thoughts, inducing its unique brand of anxiety.

What was this deep gnawing in my gut? What are these cries? These feelings that everything’s ‘not right’? They are so very deep, deep within me.

Perhaps that moment marked the beginning of the journey to meet my dog.

The black dog scratches at my door, he’s persistent. I let him in from the cold. He cuddles up to me in the darkness. He delights in the loneliness of my soul. His howls are the calls of my heart. Beyond his whining I feel the gaze and lazy smile of my tormentor.

Eight years ago and it was my fortieth birthday. I invited all my friends and I told them all to “fuck off” during a drunken speech. I hired a sports club; nice feel, wooden (it burnt down a few years later) and a bit rough. The usual getting drunk ritual took place. Some friends turned up whom I’d invited but weren’t really friends at all. My girlfriend took me home. I have a vague memory of being in a car and collapsing at my house. I crawled upstairs and Nathan my lodger had to drag me into the bathroom. I didn’t make it and was sick all over the landing. I just lay in it all. Happy Birthday. What a good night etc…

 Something had been wrong for a while.

“Here Dep! Good Boy… Where’s your bone?” He walks in and skulks in the corner, frightened and frightening, saliva dripping, seething dirty energy. He’s old, aged from his tormenting, yet his inner vitality rots at my core. He makes his bed next to mine.

Six years ago, I’m 42 and on West Hampstead station. The train taking me back to Richmond is an arrow firing me into the void. The later email confirming she doesn’t want to be with me is a message from the lips of Medusa. I curl up in a rack of pain, howling like the dog who’s licking his lips just around the corner. I try to cry but I don’t know how, I’m a man without the emotional armory, I’ve no language for this. My guts are razor-like and scooping, churning. Everything inside me is burning. For the next nine months I wake like this, frightened and alone. Crying myself to sleep with unhappiness, I take a lover, who comforts me. I plunge blindly through work; how, I don’t know. Everything is loss, all is lost. I can’t get her out of my mind. I can’t go into town because she’s there.

What was happening?

During those nine distressing but important months, deep losses collided within me. I’d been triggered. She was the object, yet I was trying to mourn something untouched inside me.

Stitched to my feet he’s my shadow; he’s my longing, my Peter Pan; he pads silently beside me, manifesting himself in my collected pain. He is part of me. He’s my dog. His eyes are my deepest losses; like those red stockings clinging tightly to her brown legs his saliva dribbles seductively down from his chin.

‘Depression.. a set of symptoms that derive from complex and always different human stories. These stories will involve the experiences of separation and loss, even if sometimes we are unaware of them.’ (The New Black – Darian Leader)

I’m now 49 and the last ten years are beginning to make some sense. This does not mean I’ve cracked it, it means that having unpacked some of this stuff with my therapist, I can begin to gently fold up my clothes again, re-sequencing them in a wiser order. I can see some of my luggage labelled now, laid out on the floor. All the stuff I’d been carrying on my journey. A heavy load.suitcase

For years I’d been longing for the relationship in which I could emotionally unpack. Of course that relationship isn’t about finding the special one; I’m not the first man to lose himself in the seductive, physical offer of The Goddess and I won’t be the last for which she’s the Achilles heel on this hero’s journey. Yet my longing is a divine call to return home. To meet my Maker. I am crying because I am separated from God. They are cries outward and upward, not in.

My soul was weeping.

I want to propose that we are both sent and drawn by the same force.. We are driven and called forward by a kind of deep homesickness, it seems. There is an inherent and desirous dissatisfaction that both sends and draws us forward, and it comes from our original and radical union with God. (Richard Rohr – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life)

What is Depression?

So what is Depression? Is it simply part of a pharmaceutical circus that prescribes us pills to feed our own capitalist economies? Or to show the NHS that it’s meeting its government-set targets? Isn’t it all a bit of a medical wind-up that we invented for ourselves forty years ago – to make the drug companies millions as part of some big consumerist cover-up? Are any drugs making any of us feel better? Don’t we need to call it an illness to retain this facade? Isn’t it all nonsense?

But it really wasn’t nonsense when I was finally reduced to a shuddering pool of twenty-four hour anxiety, fearful of the next moment, unable to care for myself and struggling to understand the complete despair I felt. What was happening to me? And it absolutely wasn’t nonsense having to return to this state of living hell three times. Perhaps Prozac assisted me in getting through the very worst, the ‘survival’ hours, the bottom of the pit, to help the hellishly, derailed sleeping pattern, to help me feel I was taking some action against the endless despondency, fear and torment. But they’ll never treat the cause. They won’t remove the pain. Yes, serotonin is a factor, but the experience of loss doesn’t lie in my brain, despite what some Government literature might tell me. The NHS can prescribe me a CBT quick-fix course, but it won’t help me in getting to the bottom of me. Drugs are not transformative. They are not the real work.

They can’t tell me that the cause is spiritual. They want to tell me it’s an illness and that it can be treated. And at the time that’s what I wanted to hear. I’m so desperate and it’s an answer! Thank God they can make medical sense of this. But.. What an arrogance! They don’t want to tell me that the only way is through, and not out. They don’t want to tell me there may more suffering on the journey. They don’t want to suggest I need to learn about courage and hope. But of course, don’t ask us to live in this paradox!! We expect to be ‘fixed’ in this postmodern, scientific world…

Leader employs a brutal analogy: quick-fix remedies work in the same way as a missile strike works on a terrorist base. In the short-term it looks successful, but it does nothing to alter the terrorist mindset. When loss and misery enter our lives, we are impatient to condense a process that, by nature or through talking therapies, can only be worked out over years. We want a name for our condition, and we want a timetable. (‘Anatomy of melancholy’ – Hilary Mantel, Guardian)

After my first nervous breakdown I realised I had made a huge descent, a road to my ashes of the type Robert Bly describes in Iron John.

I had finally started to hear my weeping soul.

Darian Leader frames the term ‘Depression’ well for me in his timely new book The New Black.

It is used so widely and with such little care that it acts as a barrier to exploring the detail of our responses to loss.

Overcoming loss will always be painful. My loss is part of me. My suffering is the roots of real transformation. The question I am asking now is – how do I integrate it into my life? Poor choices may mean my dog whines at the foot of my bed for years; wise choices that he’s free to go. Part of the paradox of being alive is that the human condition needs to endure necessary suffering and not suppress it. I see this clearly and complexly in the supreme gift we are offered; Jesus is the moment in time where God steps towards us and shows his human face. I’m beginning to understand this.. and integrate it into how I want to live. Being is about compassion, community and loving the other. Leaving the old behind is tough. I realise I don’t want a comfortable life, I want to live the adventure of life. Jesus asks me to follow – so God asks me to walk on my edge each day.

Yet it’s not all about psychotherapy and religion, it’s about the integration of a real truth into my life. Richard Rohr speaks of the truth as always being the truth, it can’t be questioned once established. Much of this truth can be found in the myths and legends of ancient cultures and civilizations. Jesus’ image in Matthew’s Gospel of a winnowing fork is used 700 years before by Homer in the Odyssey, yet might the image be at home in a modern trainee therapist’s thesis?

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12   New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition)

wheat-from-chaff

I don’t think my dog wants to answer to the name ‘Dep’. He’s Smudge or Joe or Monty. And he doesn’t need to be black. I think my ‘depression’ belonged to an old identity that has died. An identity that bled to death in his own ashes – no longer the big ‘I am’ – and then knelt quietly, and surrendered his soul to his Lord.

So as I begin to sort out the wheat from the chaff, it’s time to stand by what is real, and leave what is unreal, to stand by what lasts, and leave what doesn’t last behind me.

 

Man – You’re not Alone, You’re with the Men

“What’s the point of a men’s group?”

I was asked this question recently in the pub. I used to pour beer down my throat by the way, now I enjoy a pint and it’s enough. It’s much better.

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Ten years ago I never would have dreamed I’d be holding a fortnightly group for men in my home. That would have been too weird. I’d have been one of those weird guys. Back then, I used to seek intimate male company only when I was drunk or getting drunk. That was normal. Yet of course, drunk people really can’t listen or talk very well. It was all deeply, deeply dissatisfying.

Have you thought about how other men could be a mirror for you? How another man could teach you about yourself? What would it be like to be clear in your direction and purpose, to strengthen your integrity, become more trustworthy, strong, consistent, clear and grounded? Wouldn’t you like to know how it feels to be at your edge and be held accountable?

How are you spending your time these days..? Are you living your life? Or is it just passing?

How do you really feel?

Father meets Son

Last week I was privileged to witness one of our group re-connect with his 17-year-old son, who he had invited to come to our meeting, after a period of separateness and difficult communication for them both. It was a beautiful evening. As I sat listening, the gravity and depth of the ‘father wound’ in our society became clearer to me.

We are all wounded by our fathers somehow, all of us.

Many young men growing up within an un-fathered culture reject authority from an early age. The 2012 riots in London are only one example of the dive-bomber culture of violence and unfocused aggression many young men are involved with. Statistics from schools regarding the low achievement of boys compared to girls are undeniable. Some suggest teachers have lower expectations of boys than girls. Our young men are largely schooled and brought up by women (only 15% of primary staff are men) and the older men in their lives appear distant and unreliable.

My experience is that we can help our own sons and young men by sharing our inner lives with them. Young men need to grow up in immediate contact with a reliable and secure man. One who models a healthy sexuality, a sense of inner compass and a grasp on his soul. Perhaps one step towards this for us as men is learning how to be real with other men. It took me a while in my life to feel that being vulnerable with other men was okay. The men in our group challenge me to step up to the mark when I flounder and are transparent with me. They hear me as I am, and I hear them.

Honouring the Child in Me

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Deep in the heart of me, my inner child, is the man waiting to be honoured. If this honouring is absent before any man brings himself to woman it is likely he will remain a ‘boy’ in that relationship. I have found this to be painfully true. Perhaps this thought underpins much of the malaise in our society. Many of us are not meeting our women where they need us.

I am learning that this honouring can only take place among a group of men. It used to take place in the tribal rituals of our ancestors, in the fields and communities of farmers who worked on the land, where skills and trades were passed down from father to son. Boys understood how their fathers actually worked. Where does this take place today? Does it take place at all?

In the tragic and moving story of Eddie the shipyard docker, Arthur Miller identifies in his play Death of a Salesman that all most men require is respect.

‘I want my respect. Didn’t you ever hear of that?’

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Yet Eddie tried to do it alone. He didn’t speak his truth until it was too late. He couldn’t escape being his own island. He got stuck deeper and deeper into his own shed. The ‘respect’ he longed for was an illusion; all his pain and anger welled up over the years. He was looking for his soul.

And he lost it.

Being part of a group of men has taught me that we need each other for real right now; in a space where we can challenge each other safely, be together, and identify with some of the challenges, joys and longings of being a man in today’s world.

No woman can teach us that.

So, it’s not weird touchy-feely stuff. It’s making a commitment to other men to be the strong, authentic and loving man you are. It’s making a commitment to the people around you too, in your life, to ‘man up’ and be one of the men that we all need around us today. It’s standing shoulder to shoulder.

“there is a real sense of aliveness and clarity when men sit together and share”

Make a change. Stop taking it to the women in your life. They don’t need your stuff. Yet don’t keep it festering and rotting within you, like Eddie.

In the conversations I have with men, I frequently hear “I’ve never been this open with another man before.” It’s tough out there. Other men are waiting to shoot us down, waiting for any sign of perceived weakness so they can get one over on us. But my vulnerability is my strength, and now it can be heard. What would it be like to have the real support of other men in your life?

You’re not alone man, you’re with the men.

Is Your Man Redundant or Abundant?

Men need to work

‘Life is difficult’. The famous opening to Scott M Peck’s landmark book The Less Travelled Road. And I’m not the first for which this was a landmark wake-up call. Life is difficult when we don’t work. We need to work.

In relationship with my woman, if I am not focused on my purpose, if I am not passionate about my work, whatever that is, then… How do I lead? Take away my purpose, and I remain a shadow to her. The man she needs and dreamed of; the passionate man in line with his purpose..? No. She’ll have to prop up her life for years if I cannot meet her feminine edge with my masculine essence. She will never flower. She’ll never laugh with the freedom and abundance her spirit longs for.

I started my ‘career’ as a Drama teacher. I worked for years, very, very hard. Socially, I was always pleased to hear the enslaving social nicety “What do you do?” When replying “I’m a drama teacher” a secret code was somehow passed. “Ooh, how interesting…” they’d say. So the ensuing conversation inflated that sense of self.

I am a..

That makes me feel so good.

The ‘fragile’ male ego

This ego spent a number of years dilating into a huge, masked balloon of false self. At the beginning I talked with passion about my work, but gradually, very gradually, after I’d pushed all the education boundaries, taken a feast of artistic risks and ‘achieved’ A grade after A grade, I gradually became disconnected; a yearning hole began slowly to open and depression began to growl within. Burnout had also begun. I masked this; more hard work and creative activity, this was all I knew and seemed my only option, but the slide had started. Relationships came and went and I threw myself even more into my ‘work’. I became my work, or my work became me. Striving for perfectionism, the workaholic in me manifested itself in a need for control that dogged me in my search for contentment and in my relationships with women.

tree and benchAnd if I’m not in control I’m less of a ‘man’.

A deep yearning opened.

Who was I?

Redundant or abundant?

He’s ever so slightly uneasy in his seat, the faceless hotel foyer the stage for a scene he doesn’t want to play. His face is lined and tired. But he gives a good performance. This man’s been running his own business for the last few years. He’s working very hard to build his ‘empire’, his outer container, the groundwork that frames the adventurer, the warrior; the man in the first half of his life.WorriedCorbis460

I don’t trust him. He has that kind of face, it triggers something in me. He’s had to be hard-nosed, make some tough calls, and mold himself into the ‘businessman’. It’s changed him, he’s had to harden his heart. But as the scene quickly plays out, and he tells me “I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go” he softens ever so slightly. In me, I feel tears welling up suddenly. It’s a big shock; the impact as sudden as a car crash. I cry openly in the hotel; my tears as pearls precious in their deep waters.

Soon after, a friend reminded me on the phone that I had been made Abundant. I laugh loudly. “It’s a cause for celebration” she told me. Now I could follow my passion again, I could begin to co-create my soul path, re-realise my spiritual gifts.

A day later, I was so relieved. I hadn’t fully realised how unhappy the job was making me.

Who are we when we don’t work?

Handling the ‘What are you doing now?’ question was tricky at first. How did that make me feel? Devalued? Redundant? How was I ‘contributing’. But I’d already started this journey a few years before. In a few days I was happier than I’d ever been, and so relieved.

We are essentially lazy creatures, us men. Given half the chance we’ll do anything to opt for an easy life, the least hassle possible, the ‘no worries mate’ route. lionBut is this really our blueprint, or do we yearn for purpose, to lead, to adventure and mark out our boundaries? When teaching, every time I saw boys being told off for ‘mucking around’ by a woman teacher, I cringed. “Right, line up! Girls here, boys here.” No prizes for who always wins that one! As boys we battle against this unconsciously from an early age. Had the teacher had asked them to run around and create chaos, I wonder who’d ‘win’? The good teachers do. Boys and girls need to stand in the same line.

So Ms teacher, maybe they are pushing boundaries, pushing your buttons and causing you discomfort, but that’s what boys need to do.Untitled-5 And they really need a man to set their boundaries, not a woman with her wounds. This learning dynamic is a time-bomb for developing a strong masculine polarity in boys, especially those who go home to a single mother. 26% of families in the UK are headed by single parents (this doesn’t account for couples for whom the man is physically or emotionally absent, or both.)

What is my work?

That is the question…

How many of us are really inspired by what we do? At a party recently none of the men I met, including myself (at that time), talked passionately about what we did with our lives. I doubt many of us could face having a conversation about being. We talked dryly and pessimistically, we all know the loose kind of men’s talk. How you doing?  “Surviving…” “Not too bad…” Jokes, conquests, football…  I felt the sadness and anger behind these men’s eyes; the silent unspoken hopes of youth. Somehow, it should have all worked out better than this.

Knowing that no-one will really understand us, we avoid talking about what fills the majority of our lives; the deep pain of the man who has to sidestep the horrendous ‘what do you do’ question because he’s ashamed; he can’t bear spending any more time being with something he hates; deep wells of anger rage inside us. There’s a coal-mine of repressed masculine energy stored here. Why would a man be interested in a dreary common ground of middle-class woes – houses, mortgages, holidays..?

If I can’t talk with passion about my work, then who am I?

Men often define themselves in some way or feel connected to this world by their skills, their dexterity, the way they can make and do things. They’re becoming more useless it seems, more enslaved, more trapped. They sit at desks, and they’ve got to look so good – they’ve got to look so damned good now, and so neat and pressed, and the hair’s got to be just right, and they’ve got to smell nice and stare at a screen all day. The regimentation is appalling, and what does this do to the human spirit? What is it doing to the spirit of man? (Blogpost from: Fraser Nelson: Boris Johnson wasn’t joking – work is becoming a woman’s world)

Standing shoulder to shoulder

Men stand shoulder to shoulder; women face to face. We need to face challenge together, and you need to communicate. Untitled-4We’re different here. Our brains, our bodies. We have different purposes somewhere in our genes, we’re designed differently. At the core, men crave physical challenge. We need physical activity to knit together as a team, and as brothers. Today we’ve lost many of the physical skills that our fathers knew. Recently a news round poll showed that 25% of boys in the UK aged 8-12 answered ‘footballer’ when asked the question what do you want to be when you’re older.

Does our mid-life crisis mark the end of boyhood? A friend of mine last night said he probably didn’t ‘grow up’ until he was 51, but maybe many of us never make it at all. I think I ‘became a man’ when I first really suffered – so my previous girlfriends were in relationship with a boy! Absent fathers, female teachers and an education system geared around continual assessment where girls succeed more than boys, means our young men are growing up emasculated and dis-empowered. Men are often emotionally distant and absent from the upbringing of their sons.

To be a young man in Britain today is to be cajoled and winked at and even pressured into becoming a foul-mouthed aimless cynical and lazy drunkard: “it’s cool, dude!” (Blogpost from: Fraser Nelson: Boris Johnson wasn’t joking – work is becoming a woman’s world)

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We need to succeed. We need to be seen to be doing good.

Last month I went to see some performance poetry as part of the Kingston International Youth Arts Festival. A young female comic stood up and asked “Is anyone here a feminist?”  A few young women raised their hands and my good friend next to me half-raised hers saying “depends what you mean.” Closing the evening, another young artist offered us a passionately delivered piece intimately revealing the negative role of men in her life so far. It’s true. We knights in shining armour have become a side-lined minority voice. I haven’t seen a male comic live for a while, they all seem to do us a disservice; I liked Billy Connolly, but more funny guys being clever? Isn’t there another stereotype for us? Oh yes, there’s the mumbling, I desperately need some vocabulary lessons, football-summariser appraising the ‘complex psychology’ of this national game.. er.. disease. Uh oh.

Opening my heart

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (Galations 6:4  New English Bible)

I’ve often wanted to appear wiser and better than other men. I don’t like the feeling, it’s something like envy, but I experience it still. I’m still seeking my own heart and learning to envy others less. I’m looking to open my heart wide to the Holy Spirit and to ask for God’s gifts. So who am I proving myself to now? What presence am I honouring with my life and work?

A man in his purpose is a man in his abundance, a man who knows his spiritual gifts and stands strongly yet humbly in them. He’s a good man. And let’s hope the teenage boy won’t have to decorate his coursework in gold pen to qualify for this university course.

 

Relationship Intensive in the Middle East

I look deeply into your eyes. They change, into a beautiful, emerald blue when you’re with me. Swimming and deepening; through them I feel all your love, vulnerability and longing.

I murmur, “You make me feel like a man”.

STARTING A RELATIONSHIP

I’m in Dubai beachon an education: a relationship ‘intensive’ course. My woman doesn’t live in the UK; she’s Brazilian, we’ve known each other for a while and we know some of what’s on the other’s heart – Skype, email – it’s amazing what’s possible nowadays. But until last week we’d spent just two and a half weeks together in 18 months, and only 3 days of that with each other. I’d never seen her place, and now I’m living in it. I’d never seen her wash up, make the bed, do the washing. Hoover. So we are on this sudden two-week ‘relationship intensive’. We’ll both get certificates at the end, no doubt.

MAN AND WOMAN

How did relationships get complicated? Industrialisation didn’t help for us men. We lost touch with what our fathers ‘did’; functional, practical, provider-type work became ‘business’ and communities were destroyed as we moved away from the land after thousands of years of working it. We men no longer look at nature’s face. God’s creation got high-rise. A drastic change. Defining ourselves as men very quickly became how ‘successful’ we could be, signified by how much money we made. Thus began the material ladder to a modern UK of spiritual desolation.

On day 2 of the intensive I was reminded, more than ever, that

IT’S ABOUT POLARITIESpassionate_love_mlu15-v

“Come to bed honey”. Shifting in the bed, you open in all your longing, and I give you my energy, strong, holding you, opening us both.

I need a clearly defined role. In fact, in the home, I need my woman to create a clear masculine pathway for me. I don’t want her to take out the rubbish, lift the boxes, fix the electrics. I’m a man. We’re practical creatures and can quickly get things done in an uncomplicated way. Sure, there are places to overlap, but unless our experience clearly defines our roles, it’ll get blurry. Despite all her circling and complications, she wants a man to step in, firmly, and sort out the problem. She may not say she does, but she does. She may resist if I move to penetrate her bubble, but my presence can only blossom her into deeper love if she can yield to my gentle yet forcing energy.

His entrance into your body is deep, persistent, creative, unyielding. His strong hands hold your wrists, his belly presses down into yours, his gentle force enters you again and again, opening places you have never felt to open. (David Deida)

It doesn’t matter what our roles are…  as long as the polemic between is clear. And if our polemic is clear, we’ll have an active dynamic, and it’ll be fun and creative in the bedroom. It’s a dance. And this is our foundation.

LEARNING HOW TO FEEL AGAIN

Intensive Day 3. Bright sunshine. You leave for work, dressed in a smart black dress, high heels. Sexy and professional. “See you later baby”. Getting home later you’re tired, you’ve been in your masculine energy, working with us guys all day. And I’m here.. moving things around.. in your place…

You are now successful in the workplace and manage the home. This makes it difficult for us men. And, we are less able to communicate emotionally about these changes to our role. We didn’t have an equivalent of your intimate mother-daughter dynamic when we were young. We are nearly always alone with our sex, misunderstood, then channeled into unfulfilling work or left behind in the education rat-race. This builds up over the years; various addictions, depression and pornography all raise ugly heads, closing our hearts and resigning us to live less fully than we were designed for. Jesus knew a lot about living fully, a man on the edge of his purpose

I come to give life—not just ordinary existence, but life in fullness, abundance, and prosperity. (3 John 2)

Many of us are not ready to receive and surrender to deep spiritual transformation, we walk around with our heads full of baggage and hearts closed, hoping one day to meet you guys. We seek an illusion of physical relationship before we are even aware that we are longing to begin our spiritual journey. We forget, or are simply not taught, that intimacy is a divine gift and love an eternal presence. My experience was, before asking that spirit of abundance to be in relationship with me, that I had to learn how to really feel and open my heart. This allowed me, for the first time, to kneel before God in humility. My Creator longs to be intimate with me. That’s why Jesus is it. What greater love is there? What greater gift?

AN UNSPOKEN MASCULINE CODE

Most of us that grow up with fathers have little idea how he feels.

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He never tells us, so we learn an unspoken code of masculinity. The way we’re supposed to do things. So it’s ‘cool’ to hide feelings. And growing up with Mum creates a negative view of men from the word go – why isn’t he here? Why are men so absent?

So. We don’t ‘do’ feelings very well, we’re doing much worse at school than you and those beautiful mothers among you are bringing us up, largely alone. So in your eyes, dear woman, I become the shady hunter, the hunter-outsider, not guarding his territory and protecting you, but outcast, someone to be feared. And if I’ve proved unreliable before and there’s a fence around your heart, why would you trust me?

WHY MASTURBATE WITHOUT A WOMAN?

 “Jesus didn’t masterbate” proclaims the home-grown Christian Theology lecturer. He’s playing to a home crowd, fully in his flow. It’s a conference a few months ago, and I’m questioning. “I bet he did when he was 14” I retort. His jaw dropped.

I’m politely warned at the tea-break for ‘interrupting’.

But something still shifted in me. How did we manage before computers and magazines? We went to whorehouses. Is that it? Is it because we are alone; outside of community, outside of relationship? What kind of man wanks with porn when he has a girlfriend?

And you’re urging me, 6000 miles away, to wait for you, lying in your knickers all Skyped-up on your bed. Something had changed. I wanted to give something different, I wanted to finally shed my adolescent wanking hangover. Finally.

Back in Dubai on intensive day 4 and I watch us guys walking along the beach; many are simply lazy predators with the awareness of a reversing, school-ferrying four by four. Such is the overriding pulling power of our perverted media machine. I imagine many have never really ‘been’ with a woman. Not really. We’re at home wanking in front of porn. This can be quite healthy for adolescents (er.. without the porn right?) But for us men..?

Why waste the power you could use with a woman on a computer screen? …What do you think you’ll want when you go to bed with a woman? If we get addicted to self-pleasure, just focusing on our sensations, that is what we will continue doing in front of a naked woman. (Gustavo Gitti – The New Generation of Spoiled Men)

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Porn distorted my sex-life for years. Badly. It was so easy to find an excuse. Erotic love? Yes, but it’s almost impossible not to slip. If my first intimate experience of sex is gazing at the navel of a naked 19 year old girl? What are we doing? And you girls that have a choice – what are you doing here?

There’s such a lot to live up to, this idea of being a man. Our flimsy egos massaged by our bulging pectorals, it’s all about exteriors; it’s ‘looking after yourself’ on a nose dive to a relationship hell.

ARE WOMEN BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE?

We want equality in the workplace as much as you, but are some of you barking up the right tree? How are you measuring your new success – isn’t this just the same material trap that we’ve been squeezed into? Why would you want that? And how can you expect your man to be this dream guy, if you are treading on all his societal toes with no awareness… ‘But he’s a bastard’ – I hear you say. But you women with the awareness, you’re ahead in this, we’re just trying to catch up. But please, don’t let your son hear you. Don’t turn him against me. Don’t contribute to the cycle.

WOULD ANY MAN CHOOSE TO BE A HOUSE HUSBAND?article-0-039162FD000005DC-609_468x561

Day 5, still the relentless desert sun, and I’m at home, in your place. Not a husband, a boyfriend now, yet I’m getting a taste of ‘being at home’ while you ‘go to work’. Why would any man choose this? Isn’t it just the result of a distorted masculine/feminine pathway? We are being squeezed, inwards, into our own fear, and cannot offer you a clear masculine presence. What man would choose willingly to take the female role here? He’ll only choose it if there is no other choice – is there any evidence to show the father is the most important parent during the first five years? It’s kicking Mother Nature in the metaphysical balls. No man’s purpose is to stay at home.

I’m on the intensive because I want to create something long-term. To make a home together, maybe a family. We want to commit, yet we’re in different countries. My good Latino friend told me that Latin women make great life partners. Well, the jury is out! But what does this really mean?

‘If you want a relationship with a Brazilian girl, you must be aware of the fact that she will love and care for you unconditionally – as long as you remain masculine.’ (Colt Williams – How to Have Sex with Brazilian Women)

I’m sure this is not specific only to you ‘Latinas’, but, we’re cultural creatures. I want to remain in my masculine and we both have our cultural baggage. You are different to the European women I know. There are different expectations of me, of us, in your culture. So where are we going to meet? Can we both move in this dance?

I NEED TO FEEL LIKE A MAN

You need me to feel like a man, so you can feel like a woman. You want me to take you, to claim you. You desire it in your deepest core.

And if we keep failing to show up as men, will we fall into a soon-to-be-dominated female society, unclear about who is who, creating more girl-friendly examination systems, while passing laws allowing all types of mixed partner and sex coupling scenarios to sit alongside this gender confusion? We are trying to take responsibility, some of us, but it’s tough out here.

You are still an underclass in most of the world; cycles of historical and contemporary societal abuse weigh heavily

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Close to 60 million school-age girls are still not enrolled in schools, yet sexism seems overdramatised in some western nations and societies, given the opportunities created for women by anti-sexism legislation in the West. (Blogpost from: Fraser Nelson: Boris Johnson wasn’t joking – work is becoming a woman’s world)

yet let’s forget immigration laws, minimum wage, NHS, recessions and even the environment for a bit. We, the British man, are a forgotten underclass, right here, now. And if we’re all not careful, we can forget 5-1 man/woman ratios on singles holidays, they’ll be so very few of us ready, to really meet you.

.. a male underclass of feckless, unqualified and unemployable men who will resort to criminality, drugs and mental illness by their thousand. The dominant female gender will dispense with traditional coupling and resort to AI for procreation as there won’t be enough respectable, employed and reliable male partners out there for even 10% of women. (Devondickie from: Fraser Nelson: Boris Johnson wasn’t joking – work is becoming a woman’s world)

sexy_men_on_the_beach_1600x1200_zps38086412If the world is still (sadly) full of us making the decisions, then both of us, more than ever, need to work to effect change with them. The world desperately needs a Madonna; a new breed of accountable and reliable male role model to guide our leaders and young men through.

Yet with education systems designed for girls to succeed more than boys, a serious lack of male teacher modelling, and mothers hoping their sons grow up as men, are we blindly falling into a tunnel of societal feminisation?

So, it’s now day 8 and yes, we’re still joking about this crazy crash course. It’s a beautiful day, the Dubai racetrack hums outside, and you’re making me feel like a man. It must be going OK. Every day now I feel you slowly open, and in my heart I feel God’s gift of your love-offering to the world start to dance. And we smile.

Now, where’s that hoover?

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Deida, David: Dear Lover: A woman’s guide to men, sex, and  love’s deepest bliss