September 22, 2013 marks the beginning of my 40th year with my partner, Donna. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, but for the past 10 years, my relationship with Donna has been getting steadily stronger and deeper. I can attribute this improvement directly to the work I have done as a member of The Mankind Project. Sitting in I-Group for almost 12 years and staffing New Warrior Training Adventure weekends has pushed and poked me to grow into the man I am today.
For most of my life I carried the “not good enough” message I have heard from so many other men. Learning to have compassion for myself and accept myself as OK just the way I am took me many years and countless hours of self-flagellation. I still make frequent mistakes, but I no longer internalize a mistake as meaning something about who or what I am. It’s just yet another fuck up. I can’t recall a thing I have learned from doing something right, Seems like the only way I learn is by walking into the wall and saying, “Well, that didn’t work. Let’s try a different direction.”
So this blog is going to be about fucking up and growing stronger and deeper into what I hope will be mature manhood.
This journey started when I was seven years old, sitting at the top of stairs listening to my dad beat up my mother. I swore in that moment never to do that to my family. I have kept that promise: I never hit my wife, but I did find countless other ways to hurt her and my children.
My dad was a brilliant but deeply tormented man. He taught me many lessons, not all of them worth incorporating into my life. He loved the Pogo cartoon character drawn by Walt Kelly, but he was terrified by psychiatrists and had a pathological fear of introspection. In a sweet stroke of irony, the most famous Pogo cartoon describes what so many of us see when we look inward. The enemy within is our own unconsciousness, or as Robert Bly, Carl Jung and many others have called it, “Shadow”, the parts of me that I hide, repress or deny.
Much of my personal growth work has required delving deeply into my own shadows and learning to be at peace with them, and much of this blog site will be about my journey through shadow.