Last night during the wrap up of Traditions in Relationships I read a snippet that talked about knowing my partner’s achilles heels and using them to intentionally hurt them. It dawned on me that not only do I know what they are but the very idea of using them against her was abhorrent to me.
This is sort of big news.
I’ve long stated that I have the reasoning skill set of a woman more than a man and people just as often get mad at me when I say that women are clever and manipulative as a matter of historical survival. In a world dominated by slower thinking and physically superior men, these were the tools they developed to get their needs met. I grew up as a little man with a big brain in some very tough circles once I left the nest of my neighborhood. The odds were very good that I could neither out-fight (though I was pretty good in the confines of a vehicle) nor outrun you, so I had to outthink you.
Reading people; studying body language, vocal inflections, collecting pieces of their histories, inclinations, what they react to and comparing that to my own versions of the same, as well as learning to trust my intuition gave me razor sharp survival skills. And I used the shit out of them. Looking back at some of the situations I got myself into it’s boggling to me that I didn’t end up as a cautionary line in a Lynyrd Skynyrd song.
Yet, here i am.
That skill set meant that I had the ability to decimate your ego or psyche in 15 words or less or dance between raindrops to escape. It also has proven to be a brutal waste of time in my recovery. What i keep finding as I keep growing up spiritually, emotionally and mentally is that the tools I used to keep me alive and safe “out there” only stunt me from growing in here. In fact they can kill me because they require me to reject the principles of the program in order to use them.
I don’t live “out there” anymore. In fact my life is really pretty gentle. It is only my psychic ptsd that thinks I need the old ways in my hip pocket to feel safe. But like a feral animal, cautiously, warily stepping out – practicing one principle at a time, then scurrying back to my cave only to realize that doing so didn’t kill me did I slowly grow more courageous in trusting these new principles and tools. To practice these principles in all my affairs.
Today I use those skills I honed for survival so many years ago to help me read and understand people to help heal them. And if I can’t do that to at least feel nonthreatening to them. That my presence is somewhere they can exhale.
So… what old, treasured piece of weaponry is it finally time to let go of?
A friend who I really only know through Facebook posted a few pics of the “new” her that were so striking that I felt compelled to encourage her with a comment. What I said was “You look great! I hope your mind has followed.” She’s someone who I know has struggled because she’s been pretty honest and open about how she feels. Some of it is easily just the rites of passage that all of us go through in our twenties. But some of it is that extra tweak of damage I recognize because it reminds me of me. So naturally I root for her from afar.
I grew up a pretty ugly kid. Nerdy on top of that. And an introvert. With a big brain and an uncool depth of feeling. In short, I was fucked. When I turned 18 and got clean I miraculously went from ugly duckling to stoner punk rock swan. Only I had no idea that I had. I saw myself through the same filter I always had, only now girls started to pay attention to me. Which I thought was weird, but I sure wasn’t going to ignore my good fortune. Unfortunately my mind didn’t keep up with my improved outer appearance and I played from the perspective that I still suck but I’m smart and charming and as long as I’m good in bed you’ll hang out for awhile.
For the next 30 years.
I made a LOT of messes. Aimed for women who I had no business falling for. Managed to never get shot. (and I don’t make that statement for dramatic color) Pushed away lovers who were probably actually great, loving, loyal people for the very reason that they were just those things. And handed my heart on a platter to lovers who were no more capable of receiving it responsibly than I was at staying.
I finally broke at just under 40 years old.
I spent the next two years doing absolutely nothing romantically inclined and sought outside help. I’d dug as far as I could with the steps. They weren’t designed for this shit. But they DID give me the basic honesty and self awareness to be able to flip all my cards face up with a professional so *they* could put them in an order that made sense and receive new tools to heal my psyche. Learning to apply those ideas and skills was sometimes graceless. But it was exciting and it required me to step radically outside my comfort zone. Frankly I was all for it.
My 40’s became bar none, the best decade of my life by a long stretch. At 43 I was brushing my teeth one morning when it dawned on me that I was a pretty good looking guy. It was quite literally the first time I’d had that thought. My mind caught up to my outsides – just in time to get deathly ill for about 4 straight years, culminating in the loss of my leg. During that stretch of repeated tastes of “almost dead” fear drove me back to all my old ways in spades. But I wasn’t that ugly, introverted, awkward kid anymore. My mind actually had caught up, though at the expense of another relationship and long friendship.
It’s funny, having a fake leg hasn’t rendered me ugly. If anything it’s emboldened me. It no longer matters to me whether I’m attractive or not. Because I am clearly not my body. I am the thoughts I act on. I am the kindness I show others that no one knows about. I am a kid blowing raspberries in my wife’s belly while she squeals in equally childlike laughter and redoubles her feisty efforts to pin me. She thinks I’m hot and it makes me smile because it just isn’t important anymore. Staying and appreciating a fellow good, kind, loyal soul as my partner is what matters.
So I have great hopes for my Facebook friend. Because it took that guy to become this guy. I’m rooting for her.
Real Humility is embracing all that I am. Until I do I will forever be out of sync with all the parts of my life. It will entrench my need for my mask when the mask is the source of my suffering. The greatest lie I ever sell myself is that I need the mask at all.
I think the term ‘feminist’ itself is polarizing in a reflexive kind of way. Personally I fully endorse equality at every juncture for women simply because it’s nonsensical not to. It’s my obligation to use my power and access inherent in being a straight white male to level the playing field wherever possible. I don’t lose anything by doing so. It only makes us all a better, stronger, more efficient society. These are Humanist concepts.
The term Feminist implies (if not in reality) a desire not for equality but for the very same superiority of power and access that men currently enjoy, so ingrained in our culture and society that most people I know can’t even grasp it. Texas governor Ann Richards once said of George W. Bush, “Poor Georgie. He was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run!”. She was talking about being born into money and access but the analogy is apt for virtually any male on planet earth in comparison to the women of the same culture. It’s lunacy. And yet for all my evolved consciousness, use the label feminist and I immediately envision Gloria Steinem smirking “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”. I reflexively brace myself for an emasculation. Whether it’s coming or not. Because branding. We need to come up with something new. Not to ease my ego but to better push the discussion forward in a way that will inspire more than the choir to get onboard.
Happiness is a bi-product of giving, for free and for fun. Just like self love. Just like self forgiveness. Making them my goal ensures their failure. The only way past my ego is to not invite it to the party.
I dont. But then I dont believe in a religious or deital God. My experience with prayer is that when I call something into my conscious mind I become suddenly aware of those things I’m seeking, which were likely all around me the entire time, though I was blind to them. I chuckle at meetings when people say ‘God’s testing me’. Really? You mean you werent already lustful and greedy? God’s flinging temptation upon you? …or was it that you were busy in a 6th step and asking for help with something and now aware in a way you hadnt ever been of just what a lustful, greedy pig you actually are!
Even my one true pearl of an example of a real miracle seems to bear this out for me much more so than the idea of an Omnipotent Father; I was sitting in my bath tub struggling to breathe from pneumonia with the shower running over my head. At the time I was a 2 pack a day guy and had been for 25 years. From my shower I could see the tv in my bedroom and on it was a particular ad campaign being run on endless loop about 8 years back. In it a guy says “I cant get outta bed without a smoke!” then it cuts to a guy laying in bed, covered in sweat, saying “I cant get out of bed”. Cut to some sassy girl, “I tried to quit once and I put on 10 lbs!” fading to another, very gaunt woman with a wrap around her head, “I’ve lost 25 lbs so far”. Now I’d seen that ad a hundred times. It didnt mean squat to me. But right then I felt the full weight of it to my toes. I raised my hands over my head, palms up, lowered my head and said, quietly “God take it.”
And it was gone.
No withdrawal, no craving, no mood swings. And not another cigarette since. I hang out with smokers and neither crave them nor am pious or born again about their smoking. I have sweet freedom. Others would call this a miracle. What I call it is one of two times in my life that I was ever perfectly humble. Now it only lasted a few minutes and I was lucky enough to have prayed during that brief window. What I received was the miracle of lack of ego; for that small stretch of time I had a clear awareness of who I was in relation to you, the rest of the world and the flow of the universe.
I recovered quickly from that precarious state to my regularly scheduled slightly-better-than-slightly-less-than you comfort zone. But I took with it an ability I hadnt had 15 minutes before.
I can not solve my problems with the same level of consciousness I had when i created them. -A. Einstein
Prayer and meditation is the only way i know to raise my consciousness. Knowledge raises my thinking or contemplation. Prayer raises my Energy.