ometimes, when you’re stuck and your journey consists of wheels stuck in the mud of the wilderness, the best thing to do can be to chuck it all.
I dont mean give up and let life roll over you like a slug crawling over a salt slick while trying to outrun a caffeine-crazed chimp driving a steam roller. I mean give up the worry for a bit.
As as long as you’re not letting loose of anything pressing, like forgetting a partner’s birthday, maybe take your hand off the wheel, take your foot off the gas and pull over to the side of your path for a while.
For the the past three years, my life has revolves around a single imperative: Become a better man.
I’ve worked darn hard at getting closer to that goal. Closer because I don’t want to ever feel as if I’ve accomplished everything I want to accomplish.
Though, at times, I’ve struggled with feelings of futility when it seems as if there’s no way forward, as if the only way to go is backward to who I was. Or simply to abandon cutting a new path and sit still, waiting to be overgrown.
I didnt know what to do. I didn’t know where to go. I thought and thought, obsessed on a way to break the stalemate, and still found myself frustrated and stuck.
I talked to my my therapist about it and she said it sounded like trying to remember something. What you’re trying to remember is right on the top of your brain and you can’t get it out to your tongue. In such a situation, there’s a standard piece of advice. Stop worrying about it. Stop trying to remember the item.
When end your brain relaxes and begins focusing on other things, the answer will just pop up.
It it actually worked for me. The answer is been looking for, the possible path forward, was right there. Only I hadn’t been able to see it.
Im in a similar situation right now. Though I’m trying to face someone in my life without bitterness or resentment, those feelings keep popping back up. I don’t know what to do to deal with my issue. I wracked my brain, read books, talked to my therapist and still didn’t know what to do.
I still dont.
And thats okay. I’ve decided to give myself a mental break. Perfect timing.
I’m currently in Central America helping a corps of dedicated medical professionals bring the joy of walking to some poor folk here unable to afford the treatment they need.
I’m going to be present for these patients who need our help. I’m going to help them, something that always makes me feel good. And I’m not going to think about my own situation.
When end I get home. . . Who knows? I might have the answer. I might not. And either outcome is okay.
I’ll have helped people no one else could have helped. I will have done good. I can’t think of a more worthy definition of better man than that.
Everyone knows . . . real men don't eat quiche. Or wear pink. Or cry in movies. Or caress his partner tenderly and express his love.
Real men are strong. Silent. Stoic. Real men stand alone, outside socialization, relying only on themselves. If they differ, they aren't real men.
They are wimps. Wussies. Girly boys. They are looked down upon, made fun of and sneered at.
Being a real man, we believe, is our only choice for going through life respected and loved. It's also killing us.
In a fantastic article in the British newspaper The Telegraph, author Poorna Bell talks about how her husband' suicide caused her to reflect on the horrible price men pay for trying to live up to the strong, self-sufficient, stoic stereotype of the real man. Her book, Chase the Rainbow, is part journalism and part memoir.
in an article in today's The Telegraph, Bell talks about how her husband, who fought depression all his life, faced the end of his life.
"In May 2015, he took his own life, unable to see a future in which he wouldn’t still be fighting his illness, unable to reconcile what he thought he was versus what he believed a man should be.
In one of his last messages to me, he said he couldn’t live with being bankrupt, an addict, mentally ill. This speaks heartbreaking volumes of how he saw himself at the end – someone no longer valuable to society. "
Please take the the time to read this article. Who knows? It might change your life. Being open to the possibility of male emotional life can be difficult, though it can be done.
It is almost impossible for most men in our society to reach out and ask for help. Especially if the help we need is of a non-physical nature. Actually allowing someone to know we are mentally not at the top of our game, that we have allowed emotions to make us week. . . That is unforgivable.
I'm lucky. In more ways that one.
In my case, when I'd reached my bottom, found myself in the bottom of a pit with one way out and no one in my life willing to let down a rope to help me climb back to the light, I was able to ask for help.
I found someone caring enough, empathetic enough to help me understand there was nothing wrong with me because I had emotions that were controlling me instead of the other way around.
I found a therapist who could understand me, to help me understand myself. She helped me to realize that those nights during which I didn't - couldn't - sleep because the sadness and futility would wash over me, near drowning for weeping, were part of a natural process. That to deny the pain, the loneliness and fear was unnatural.
Only by experiencing them, working to understand them, could I become healthier and move forward in my life.
Men are supposed to be strong. Their one objective is to never be seen as weak. Asking for help is seen as weak. To survive, to become whole people, we have to be strong enough to allow others to seee us as weak.
Men don't have to suffer alone, don't have to suffer because we think we have to be alone. We can reach out for help, accept that help and become a real man.
Not some cardboard cutout of a person, masking the roaring rage monster we've created within.
All we we have to do is ask.
Pick any romantic comedy. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Got it? Good.
Now, imagine the chaos and horror should your boyfriend meet your husband and both of them realize they're having a relationship with you . . . at the same time! There would be tears and recriminations, anger and possibly violence, as well as the overwhelming demand that you pick one and only one of them to spend the rest of your life loving.
I didn't have to think of a romantic comedy to imagine that scenario. I have already met my wife's boyfriend*. There was no screaming, no chest thumping, no macho posturing, no crying and no demands to choose. Instead, we shook hands, asked how each other was and I then asked if they'd had a good time on their trip out of town.
Admittedly, it wasn't perfectly easy to do. It took a while for my wife to get over the idea that I shouldn't ever meet her partner*. Even though she was the one who initiated our move from monogamy to polyamory, Os seemingly had a lot more hangups about the idea of me meeting her lover* than I did.
While I'm not a mindreader (nor do I play one on TV), I know what you're thinking right now. Stop picking at it and it will go away. Yes, the other thing also. How could I meet my wife's paramour* without being blinded by jealousy, without roaring into action to protect what's mine, to fight to keep her and get rid of the interloper? Am I not a man? Am I some sort of wimp who lets other dudes walk all over him?
Each of those answers are all tied together, really. I wasn't jealous because I'd done a lot of research, a lot of reading and a lot of thinking about the nature of romantic love. I'd come to realize that (and I think I'm paraphrasing someone here. If you know, shoot me a note in the comments and I'll give credit) love is about appreciation, not possession. That is, my wife is her own person, just as I am. As such, she is in charge of who she loves, who she does not and how she chooses to express those feelings. Just as I am responsible for my own feelings.
Through a very difficult process of Do-It-Yourself Psychic Rebuilding(TM), I began to understand that each individual owns only themselves. I express my love for the women in my life how I choose to express it, in a way that will bring the greatest love to me and to them. They are free to respond in whatever way they choose.
I also came to realize this important thing: Men can and should be more than emotionally stunted rage monsters with jealousy issues and sexual entitlement. When faced with something we don't understand, it's okay for a man to admit it, to step aside for study and contemplation, to cry when sad, to ask for help, to not see force as the answer to every problem. In other words, to do, feel and express the very emotions that our culture says cannot be seen in a real man. That, however, is a whole other story.
I need to get back on track here. I think I've managed to go a little off the track. Let's see. . .
Right. All that up there? Yeah, still important, though I'd like you to thin of it as background information for a while, something to keep in mind as I move forward. In other words, I told you that so I could tell you this.
The best way to think about polyamory is through the lens of economics. Next week, we're getting out the bow ties and talking about the laws of supply and demand.
Until then, be good to yourselves.
My chosen name is Praxis.
It's most definitely not the name under which I was born and lived out the majority of my life. Instead, Praxis is the name I've chosen to announce my presence as I move into what was, to me, not only unknown territory, but territory I didn't know even existed.
Loosely translated, praxis is a Latin word that means action. After a lifetime spent, at best, reacting to the people and events around me, I felt it was time to start making my own way in the world once more.
I'd never have made this change on my own. In fact, I owe it all to my wife, who I'll call Os, and the question she asked me on Feb. 22, 2015.
After a tumultuous two months during which I became convinced that she was having an affair, (to my defense, all the signs were there and I was almost right) I at last confronted her about what was going on. That's when she asked the question that changed my life.
No, she said, I'm not sleeping with another man, but I'd like to and. . . would you have a problem with that?
In the span of ten seconds or less, Os opened the door to both a new life and a new way of thinking. The only problem, of course, was that to step through that door would shatter my life, shred my personality and kick off one of the most painful years of my life. I could have chosen the safe path, which would have led to me continuing to exist in the most inoffensive way possible. Hell, every single decision I'd made for most of my life would have told you that was the only decision I could make.
It was the safe decision. It was the decision that would have caused less pain in the long run.
This is the story of how and why I walked through that open door, the cost I paid, the cost Os is now paying, and whether the safe choice was the better choice.
I'll give you a spoiler right here at the beginning because I am a nice person. Well, not really a nice person, but I like to play one on the blogs, so it amounts to the same thing really. The spoiler is this: The safe choice is never the better choice.
While I'll be using my own experiences as a guide through the conflicting advice and differing directions surrounding the idea of alternative relationships, I won't be the sole focus of this blog. I'll also be bringing in some of the top relationship experts to chip in on the conversation. Of course, by that, I mean I'll be quoting some of their books or articles.
Who knows? I might get lucky and somehow manage to snag an interview with someone really at the top of the sexual therapy game like Morgan Ray. Nah, I couldn't get that lucky.
For now, the focus on this blog will be about polyamory, (a horrifying mixture of Greek and Latin word roots that offends the literate sensibilities hiding in my rough-hewn body) consensual nonmonogamy, open relationships, morality, ethics and sex. Not necessarily in that order.
My plan is to come out with a new post every week, which should give me plenty of time to procrastinate, put off writing, stare out the window, clean my office space, vacuum the floors, do the dishes, do the laundry, walk the dog and finally sit down to crank something out in the final six hours before my deadline. Join me for that sublime pleasure at the highest levels of craftsmanship, won't you?