Who Wears The Pants? Shouldn’t You Be Naked?

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In every relationship there is always a power dynamic; who wears the pants so to speak. Sometimes just in public, and sometimes in private as well, but it is almost always there. No one wants to face the world naked, so we all clothe ourselves as protection against what the world can throw at us. There are so many jokes about husbands and wives and who really wears the pants and these jokes they ceased to be funny long ago. These jokes though, they overlook one important fact about relationships, that they’re partnerships and if we clothe ourselves against our partners then we protect ourselves from our partner seeing us for who we really are.

He concedes ground and sacrifices his own needs in the face of her desires, and always he is left as the last in their relationship.

I know a couple, they seem to be in love, but I suspect they are drifting apart. You see Jill wears the pants in this relationship; she is vocal in her displeasure and forceful with her needs and wants. James is, well not so much. He will back down when he had every right to do whatever earned her displeasure, he concedes ground and sacrifices his own needs in the face of her desires, and always he is left as the last in their relationship. She clothes herself in righteousness, she worked hard, she deserves to have her desires met, she is entitled to the respect she spent years earning. Yet she forgets, forgets a partnership requires her to listen to the person who follows. He clothes himself in resentment, resentment at being ignored, and resentment about the things he needs but can never get. He forgets he defines the boundaries of his own self-respect. Finally he turns away from her in resentment as she turns away from him to do what she wants. She wears the pants, and neither is naked, and so the relationship drifts further apart.

I know a couple, they seem to be in love, but I suspect they are tearing each other apart. They both wear the pants in this relationship. John is a corporate shark by day and everything is a negotiation, as long as he always gets what he wants. Jack is a builder, a man’s man; he takes nothing from no-one as long as everyone knows it’s his way or the highway. When together they always argue, Jack never negotiates and John never takes the highway. Anything and everything is a battle which neither can win nor lose. As close as they want to be, their clash of wills continually tears them apart. John clothes himself in mistrust, always suspicious of Jack and the fact Jack never gives ground, because John forgets he is in a partnership. He forgets that Jack isn’t the opposition and both are negotiating for a good relationship, and so he turns away. Jack clothes himself in anger continually frustrated at what he considers undermining tactics because Jack forgets they are partners. That his way and John’s way need to be the same way, and so he turns away. Both wear the pants but neither is naked so slowly the relationship tears at the edges.

I know a couple, they seem to be in love, but they seem to be imploding under the weight of unsaid words. No one wears the pants in this relationship; no one is really sure how they got together in the first place. Jim and Jane are introverts, they love deep conversations about important things, but neither talks about the things that are important to both. Jim desperately wants to hear about Jane’s desires and dreams yet he is afraid to ask. Jane wants to be discovered, understood, to have someone understand who she is, she wants a connection that sets her soul on fire but she doesn’t understand that for this to happen she has to let someone in. So Jim and Jane implode, trying hard to get closer but neither letting the other in. So Jim clothes him neediness trying every way he knows to get past her armor because he has forgotten that the best way into someone’s heart is to show your own, so he turns away. Jane clothes herself in frustration, wishing Jim would just know, hoping Jim would just understand, but she has forgotten that a partner isn’t a mind reader and in her frustration she turns away. Neither wears the pants but neither is naked so the closer they try to pull towards each other the heavier the weight of unsaid words.

They have turned towards each other and only the other has their attention.

I know a couple and they are in love. During the day they fly free and explore the world of their dreams and passions but at night, when they return, they are like two long lost friends reunited with stories and tales to tell. I don’t know who wears the pants in this relationship, when they are together they are naked. When Jarred returns at night, as much as he has his own tales to tell, he misses Jen and wants to hear all that made her happy, sad or buzzing with excitement, so he turns to her and undresses her. A million questions he has, trying to see Jen for who she really is. When Jen returns, as much as she wants to relate all that she experienced during the day, she misses Jarred and wants to hear his stories, his successes and his failures. The very things that made him feel alive. So Jen turns towards Jarred and undresses him, a million questions on her lips trying to see Jim for the man he is. I don’t know who wears the pants in this relationship because when Jen and Jarred are together the rest of us don’t exist, they have turned towards each other and only the other has their attention.

I know the couples above don’t exist, no relationship lives in such a single dimensions. We all have those aspects above and we clothe ourselves as we are want to do. Depending on our loves and fears we can don any of these aspects, sometimes it is necessary. Clothes have a purpose, to protect us from the cold, wind and rain. We wear them because the world is not a place that is always fair or kind and only a fool walks into the world naked. Yet we should remember that when we don our pants that we may be turning away from our partner. The very clothes that protect us from the world outside protect us from the love from our partner. So when you next you joke about who wears the pants in your relationship maybe the joke is on you, because shouldn’t you be naked?

Originally published at the Good Men Project

Where Do Men Go When They Are Afraid?

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We get called stoic, distant, assholes, angry and bitter, we are never doing what we are expected to do or it looks like we just simply don’t care. All these descriptions are mostly the descriptions of someone who’s scared.

Somehow the world forgets that men are afraid sometimes too. We aren’t supposed to be frightened though, we are men, manly men, and men aren’t ever frightened, but we do become frightened, it changes how we act and we do our absolute best to make sure it never looks like fear. We are supposed to face all our fears head on and slay them like a knight slays a dragon. Have you seen dragons though, they’re huge, they breathe fire and there is almost never a room full of treasure or a princess on the other side. No at best we hope no one will notice and we can calmly continue our lives. So where do we go when we are afraid, when we can’t slay our dragons?

My female friends often ask me why men behave a certain way. You see they are looking for a date and they are looking for men who are confident and fearless, real men. How little they know. Rejection hurts, it’s hard to not take it personally when you have to put your heart on your sleeve and ask someone to judge it worthy. When a man freezes from this fear of rejection he won’t ask her out, he won’t take his heart out because he is looking for surety, to know it’s safe to do so. He will hang around like a lost puppy dog never sure what to do. When a man fights this fear he gets bitter, all women are such and such, women are lesser beings. He never takes his heart out but instead shields it with anger and women are the enemy combatants, enemies waiting to be conquered. The men who flee — unanswered texts, unanswered calls, the silence after you thought all was going well — yes these men run rather than face the possibility of being rejected. All these men have nowhere to go with this fear, in endless loops the pattern repeats, almost date after almost date. Courageous women can break into this cycle, whether she wants to is another matter altogether.

If he freezes he becomes stuck in a soul crushing job

My married friends sometimes ask me what is wrong with their husbands, why they are the way they are, lazy, resentful, morose and distant. They married a brave man, a real man. How little they knew. Often a man will do his duty to his family, especially if there are children. He will give up his passions and dreams to provide and protect. If enough time passes he will have discovered he threw out the part of him that made life worth living as well. After a time he is scared, scared if chases his passions he won’t be able to provide and he will no longer be a man. If he freezes he becomes stuck in a soul crushing job, robbed of energy and the will to be active. If he fights it he runs from job to job, never quite following his passions yet never quite remaining as the provider, always something bigger and better around the corner and always someone else’s fault as to why he never makes it. If a man flees he quits, simply gives up his life, gives up his job and gives up his dreams never to try again. He’ll never be good enough so why should he try. These men have nowhere to go with this fear, an endless circle of being stuck, never quite employed or fully unemployed and only life shattering events will move a man from this loop.

I often hear it asked, from friends, from family and by the media, why can’t men be more vulnerable, why can’t they express themselves and open up their feelings. This is something men find very hard to do; we have been trained from birth that our feelings are unimportant. We are hugged less, comforted less, and by the time we are five we have already started to learn that to be a man boys don’t cry. We know we face ostracism and shame if we let our true selves be shown to the outside world. So we don’t.

We replace vulnerability with emotional control and feelings with actions. Those of us who freeze become the stoics, nothing touches us or gets past our cool exterior and no one can see the turbulent waters underneath. Those who fight become the aggressors, the world is a battlefield we must fight on and life is a struggle that must always be won. Those who flee withdraw from life, they insulate themselves from the outside world, meek and shy at the thought of what may result if they are forced to feel. It is rare that a man will truly escape from his own prison, if he does it is often only with his partner and possibly his closest friend. We have nowhere to go with this fear and in times of great distress we are painfully aware of how pitiful and small the prison in our heads is.

Yet what we seek is a mentor, a friend, a confidant

There are many men who have not learnt how to slay their dragons. These dragons represent some of the most important things in our lives, the partners we end up with, the career we work in and our very ability to cope with life and yet there is no dragon hunting school. We end up lost in featureless plains, stuck on a battle field or hiding in a cave, and we know that to seek help is fraught with shame.

The answer to our problems is always “Just do it”, “Man up” or “Grow some balls” and we know it, we have heard it many times before. Yet what we need is a mentor, a friend, a confidant, someone who has slain the dragons and can show us the way. Above all we need a safe place where the shame of not being a man is held outside. We need someone who can show us that the flames are more smoke than fire, that the dragon is half blind and crippled in one leg, that if we are knocked down we can get back up again. But good friends are rare, mentors are rarer and safe places are harder to find than Eldorado.

We are men though, so we muddle through. We know we have nowhere to go with our fears. So where do we go when we are afraid? The answer is we don’t go anywhere, we get stuck in actions and behaviors that are not acceptable.

Some of us get stuck in a fear track for a while, some of us for a long while. Those of us who are stuck, we earn those descriptions above, yet the shame of being less than men is worse. We are men, we are afraid, yet in a world where we can’t express that we must pick another action. It takes us time to learn to slay dragons and sometimes it can cost us more than we would wish to face those dragons and move on. So if you see a man who fits those descriptions, instead of thinking he is a prick — that being a fearless man he should be able to deal with dragons — take a moment to consider whether he might have the very real human emotion of fear, and maybe, just maybe, he hasn’t yet learnt to deal with his fears yet. He isn’t uncaring, unfeeling, a brute or a wimp, he’s just a man, a real man facing dragons he has yet to slay. Before we judge him too harshly, who amongst us can truly say we have conquered all of our fears? I can’t.

Originally published at the Good Men Project

What A Man Wants In A Dance

Image thanks to Getty Images

Authors Note:I asked for input from men, I wanted a more general feel to this article, but we men are a recalcitrant bunch at times so this is from my own perspective combined with some input from a fellow dancer.

What do I want from a dance, it’s not an easy question as a guy, it doesn’t sit forefront in my mind and neither do the descriptions I would use involve words that normally leave my mouth. Think about this I did though and what I want is thus, from least to most. Perfection found in creation, the freedom found in release, connection bound through touch and most importantly, intimacy released through expression. There are other things I want such as friendships, conversations and social interaction but they don’t require a dance and they have in their own rhythm anyway. So the plot of what I want is set and I should guide you through this dance.

There is a drive inside me to perform, to create something on the floor and perfect it over time. It’s my repertoire, the moves that I have learnt; it is the very signature of who I am on the floor. The dance floor is a Lego mat and my moves the bricks. Each dance requires I pull them out and build something unique. I’m still new, still learning so my bricks are big and square, and while I yet want to build castles on the floor, square houses is where I am. This seeking of perfection in the dance that I create scarcely requires a partner but a partner I must include. I think solo dancers understand this oh so well, this is more important to a solo dancer than it is to me, but it is there, this seeking of perfection. I think all dancers have this, especially when new, we see so many castles on the floor, from dancers with decades of experience, how could we resist this wanting to emulate such perfection.

A place where music, feet and mind all meet, a place of meter, beat and rhymes.

There comes a time at the end of beginner’s hell, a time where your first dance has no time at all. A place where music, feet and mind all meet, a place of meter, beat and rhymes. It happens so rarely at first, but more frequently as you improve, as time and place merge where your presence is focused to a point and utter freedom is released. It’s hard to describe what it feels like when you no longer hear the music but your whole body feels the beat, you can’t fall out of sync, the music controls your feet. My mind when this happens, it’s gloriously blank, moves and movement happen and I have no idea where they come from, and for three beautiful minutes there is just me and the person in my arms. I have no idea how to replicate this and it still surprises me when it happens, but every night I head out to dance I hope find this freedom, this release, just one more time.

There is a language in touch, I never knew it was there. I’m faceblind you see and facial expressions are not my strength. I sometimes wish I could remember the color of my friend’s eyes, but with dancing I can remember the connection in our last touch. You see touch is the language of intent, movement and empathy; a connection based on touch runs deeper than one in words. I can feel my partner’s steps; I know when she is on the wrong foot and steady her when she loses her balance. I can guide my partner in this dance simply through intent and if I listen I can hear my partner’s intent too. But mostly I feel my partner’s mood, I can feel when they are relaxed, happy, tense or bored and for good or bad this connection based on touch tells me I am not alone. We spend so much time trying to connect with other people and with dancing that connection, at least for a time, comes true. I wish I had found dancing earlier in life, there is a healing in connection, in hearing it through touch, such a small thing touch but so large when it’s not there.

To all my regular partners I thank you, you make dancing special, and you make it shine.

With every regular partner with which I dance there is an intimacy that we reach. It goes beyond mere connection and goes into a world where a bond is formed. We share a measure of trust, understanding and familiarity. It’s not a relationship bond, but a dancing bond, where over time both my partner and I feel free to express that which we hold dear about dancing to the other. Each partner offers something special, something unique, and with each my dance is different but I can not always say how. Some I will dance closer and slower while some require speed and thrill. Each partner is dear to me as they offer something individual, a part of themselves which they only show to those they trust. It’s an emotional connection, a closeness developed over time. The physical closeness in dancing is considered intimate, but it is nothing compared to the closeness between minds. To all my regular partners I thank you, you make dancing special, and you make it shine.

So that is what I want when I dance, not much to ask for in a mere three minute song. I only seek perfection, freedom, connection and intimacy, no it’s not a lot to ask for, not at all. I can admit I am addicted to dancing, I understand how that works, for these things that I want are very special things. I can’t say all men want these things, I know some are players and some are after even simpler things, but these are the things I search for, the things that make dancing worthwhile.

Originally published at the Good Men Project

The Lost World Of Male Desire

man-desiring-world

There is a world out there full of heroes and villains, mountains scaled, oceans crossed, risks taken, accolades won and lovers dancing beside silver lit glades. Yet this world is being overshadowed and lost. It is the world of male desire, a world connected intimately with our identity, connected with our dreams and our passions and it is being buried and covered by the world we live in, this reality we must be a part of. Some may say this is a good thing, but I doubt they truly see how amazing and beautiful male desire is. If they did comprehend, if they truly understood, they would be saddened by exactly what is being lost.

As young children boys can no longer be boys. Their world of good and evil, guns and cars, play acting of their role models, its been deemed disruptive to class. Offending boys are suspended from schools, dosed with Ritalin and their play time removed. This is the world of a boys desire, the world they use determine right from wrong, the world they use to explore ethics and morals, the world they use to understand action and reaction and this world is being lost. How can these boys grow to become leaders of men, meant to change the world in their desire for a better place if they are not given the opportunity to understand this world? Those who are strong enough internalize this world and never speak of it again, those who aren’t become lost in a system where they only comprehend that the system is right and they are wrong.

When they say they want to be a doctor they no longer mention they want be the one to cure cancer.

As teenagers these youths can no longer be youths. They enter a world where they are trouble, where they must be stopped from making mistakes. The real world is a place where risky behavior is deviant behavior, a world where risks are inappropriate and the only approved outlets are games of sport. Yet even sport is not the rough and tumble game of risk it once was. This risky place is the world of a youth’s desire, it’s the place where fears are conquered and youths become the men they are destined to be. This is the world where a youths desire to take the world by its horns and wrest from it the keys to greatness is discovered and learnt. Those who are brave hide their ambitions and passions from the world, they keep them close to their chest. When they say they want to be a doctor they no longer mention they want be the one to cure cancer. When they say they want to be an astronaut they no longer mention they wish to be an adventurer of old discovering new frontiers. Those who never learn to be brave become pushed and pulled by fear and insecurity instead and their passions smolder to embers having neither direction nor outlet.

… torn forever trying to prove they are not the monster that the world tells them they should be

As young men a much sadder lesson is taught. The world tells them they are monsters, violent rapists looking for their next victim. They are told they can not be trusted, that they are not wanted, and that they are nothing more than fodder for wars or backs for endless drudgery. They are shown that even if they succeed and become married they are nothing more than boorish fools incapable of even the simplest household and fatherly duties. There is a world inside these men, a world of both sexual and romantic desire. In this world epic tales are dreamt where they learn about seduction, mystery, allure and romance. Where they learn what it is to bring a women to the edge of passion, what it means to deeply connect and what it means to touch both a partners heart and mind. But this is wrong, men’s sexual and romantic desires are wrong. Those who are wise continue to dream these epics, they learn to release these lessons in mere smidgens waiting, hoping, to one day find a partner they can fully express these desires. Those who never learn wisdom, those who let their dreams fade, become torn forever trying to prove they are not the monster that the world tells them they should be, trying desperately to keep close the knowledge that they are passionate human beings too.

The world of male desire, this is the world where the strong become leaders, where they are born and created, activists whose desire is set on the path to right the wrongs in the world. When these men cross our paths we can’t help but follow such desire. This world of desire is a world where the brave become the front-runners of progress. These are the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the artists and adventurers, the men who take their desire and use it to mold reality into the shape of their dreams. When we come across these men’s paths we can’t help but follow the trails their desire has cut. This world of desire is a world where the wise know the true meaning of romance. Where Gomez’s relationship with Morticia is the true expression of male romantic desire and not laughed at as an Adams Family eccentricity. When we see such men we can’t help but fall in love with the ideal of love, a love which shines through their every action.

This world of desire is hidden though. We have strong men, brave men and wise men but always they keep their desire close to their hearts. They achieve such wonders but you can only guess at their desires through their actions, never do these men they truly reveal such desires to the world around. I don’t think the world understands what it is losing with the suppression of male desire. I wonder what would happen if a brave, strong wise man let his desires be fully known. Would the world tear him apart, would it know what to do with such a man? I think such a man would be a force to be reckoned with. Gandhi, Henry Ford and Pierre Curie all rolled into one. Is the world ready for such a man? Does this world deserve such a man? This world of male desire is not a thing to be feared. Scratch the surface of this world instead of burying it because underneath great marvels lie in wait, hoping for a time they can be set free.

Originally Published at The Good Men Project 

What A Man Wants In A Marriage

A question was asked, “Where have all the good men gone”, and answers were found – The good men are scared of marriage, they are scared of divorce, they are scared of losing their kids, they never wanted to, or never had to, grow up or they simply can’t find any good women. Pondering this, I began to wonder if I remarried again what would I want in a marriage. What would make me take that leap a second time, what would truly make me feel blessed in both good times and bad? I asked the old dogs, those who have been married for decades, those who should have an answer, not necessarily my answer though, and they responded; respect, support, tenderness, love, passion, honor, commitment, compatibility, intimacy, listening, communication and tenacity to weather life together. But these were not enough for me, it’s like describing a fish by saying it has fins, or a tree by saying it has leaves. Only I could answer my own question, a question I should have asked myself a long time ago.

So what am I looking for? I’m looking for my equal, someone who’s seen the harsh realities of life but someone who can still see the beauty in life too. I’m not a man who leads, and I’m not a man who follows either, I’ve always traveled my own path, my journey towards forever, and I’m looking for someone to share that with, someone who walks a similar path. In dating, a man is supposed to take control and lead, but this to me does not make for equals. In movies a man is supposed to be nagged because he does not know what to do, but this does not make for equals either. There are times that I should take the steering wheel, and times I am weary and my partner should take that responsibility too. There will be times we will both be weary and it falls upon us both to search for a romantic rustic cottage, a place we both can pause and recharge. I’m looking for an equal but I despair that the rules of this game are rigged.

I need to see that hunger in her eyes when my partner desires me.

Am I searching for love, passion, intimacy, tenderness? You bet I am, but I must feel it in return. As a man I need to be shown that I am loved, words are not enough for me. I need to be touched; to have my hair tussled playfully while I concentrate. I need to see the playful exuberance a woman is want to display from time to time. I need to see that hunger in her eyes when she desires me. I need to be shown what she likes in bed, I need to hear her fantasies, I really won’t judge. I want to be let into her mind and enveloped by what I find there. I want to catch her smiling when she looks at me when she thinks I can’t see. I want times when we do nothing more than enjoy each other’s presence. I want nothing more than to know that I touch her heart as much as she touches mine. But some of these things seem to be forbidden, as if some rule precludes too much, as if I must guess how much I am loved because if I knew I would somehow lose interest.

I want to share my dreams, they are important to me. They define every fiber of my being and I am nothing without them. My dreams are uncut diamonds and my worth is cut out from their shaping. The person that I marry, they can’t have me and not my dreams because that is not the person they met. I know they’re large and impossible but that’s beside the point. I want to fly through space, to show the world that beauty still exists and to see and feel that beauty every day. It’s why I study astronomy, why I write and why I dance. This is the journey that I will share, I need my partner to understand that I may well never reach these impossible heights but if I stumble I want to know I can count on my partner to offer me a hand up. The true ring on her finger will be set with the diamond that I shape myself into. I fear though that I live in a world where dreams are dismissed as nothing but flights of fancy.

What do I want most though? I want to know that my partner values our commitment together. I want to know that my partner honors and respects that commitment as much as I do. I know full well the costs that come with a failed marriage, I know full well how easily I can be left as a mere husk of a man taking years to heal, I know full well the power a woman can wield in those final days. For better or for worse you have been given this power so I ask of my partner with two things. It is our responsibility for our commitment, not all mine, not all yours, but ours. It must be maintained by both of us as equals. Secondly I can’t promise things won’t be hard, they will be, they can be very hard, but it is our responsibility to weather them, not all yours, not all mine, but ours. Please remember we are committed together, we are not enemy combatants, and we are not trying to be better or worse off than the other. Our Happiness, victories, losses and miseries have to be shared or our commitment will break under the strain. But I fear the media has taught us well how to see the green grass in distant pastures and commitments are abandoned, left to fallow, rather than fertilized and watered.

I have started to wonder if we have spent so much time perfecting what we are looking for in a partner that we have somehow forgotten to look at what we want in a relationship.

So I have started to answer my question. I am sure there is far more but these are some of the things that were missing, disappeared, or lacking in my past and I feel their loss even now. I don’t know whether I am a good man but I see my friends searching for good women and men. Somehow they rarely ever meet. I have started to wonder if we have spent so much time perfecting what we are looking for in a partner that we have somehow forgotten to look at what we want in a relationship. They seem to be very different things, traits in a partner versus traits in a relationship. I think there are still a lot of good men and women out there, but I think we spend far too much time looking for a perfect partner instead of what we should be looking for – a good relationship.

Originally posted on The Good Men Project

Photo: Flickr/Richard foster

Bullying Is Forever

They say that you get over things from your past. That you move on, become stronger, wiser and more resilient. But they never mention that bullying is forever. Ask anyone who has lost someone close if they ever truly forget, if they ever stop grieving for the ones they love and they will tell you that they don’t, that the person they lost is still close to their hearts. It’s no different when you grieve for yourself, the person that died so young, the person you could have been, the person that never was.

There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of that kid that was me. He’s still there close to my heart. And what they say is true, you do become stronger, wiser and more resilient.

Bullying is forever, it has affected every decision and action in my life; but the fears I overcame, the lessons I learned and the courage I have to live life are forever too. These things affect every decision and action I make. They are my gifts to myself for a being the person who didn’t give up. The man who never was is gone, but in his place is not a lesser man, just a different one, one I am proud of.

For those of you who are mourning the you who could have been, take heart — the person who will be, the person who is in that lost child’s place, the you that is — you have been given an opportunity to mold the person you are and you have more freedom to shape yourself than most people will understand. The part of you that you now mourn can be rebuilt, and it is wholly up to you to choose the person you wish become.

There is only one person who can take responsibility for the rest of your life, you.

I know it is unfair, that you curse whatever god you no longer believe in, that you would give anything to go back and change the way things are. I don’t carry easy news; rebuilding is hard — almost as hard as what you went through — and it will take longer than the events that transpired. I know how unfair it is to have the responsibility of fixing the damage someone else caused, but there is only one person who can take responsibility for the rest of your life; you. I’m rooting for you, I hope you can do it. I know you have the strength, wisdom and resilience to become this different person if you so choose.

Whether you believe it or not you are already strong enough. You have faced things most people will never understand. You will feel alone and adrift facing irrational fears no one comprehends. Except your fears aren’t irrational, they are fears backed by the demons of experience, the probability of them happening is certain; the demons are already in your head. But face your fears you must. I know you can do it, I know there will be days you don’t always win, but think of what you have been through, you already know you shall live. And if a hand is offered up, don’t turn it away. They may not understand, but would you truly want them to go through what you have been through, just so they can begin to comprehend? As you face your fears look to the people who offer their hands, they have the answers to the question you don’t know to ask, the one that is behind the demon you now face. Bullying is forever, but the strength you gain from facing your fears is forever too.

Whether you believe it or not, you are already wise enough. You have had to learn things that most are never taught. You wish these lessons had never been given, they were delivered at the end of a fist and a smirk, but learn them you did and now it’s time to use them. You have learned how to endure, how to out-think and how to never give in. You have learned about anger, about rage and about hate but these are double sided. The things you miss the most are friendship, love and trust, and even in their absence you learned about these as well. You know where anger, rage and hate stops, it’s a place you could never quite reach but I know you, you looked for their opposites, imagined them, dreamed for them and ached for them. I know you can see them, you deserve them, you are worthy of them. Search for the people who can provide you with their substance, not the people who provide you with pain. You have the insight now to truly see people for who they are, use it. Bullying is forever, but the wisdom you have learned is forever too.

You’re amazing; you truly are, for heroes would have given in long ago.

Whether you believe it or not you already have the resilience you need. You have had to get up more times than a dozen of your peers. My heart bleeds for you knowing how hard it is for you to walk out your front door, but you do it anyway, day after day. I know you think it will never end, yet time after time you never give in. You’re amazing; you truly are, for heroes would have given in long ago. You have the courage although you think you don’t. No matter how dark the tunnel, you still grow towards the light. You have the resilience you need, you will reach the light, your courage is there please don’t lose faith. Bullying is forever but the resilience rooted in courage is forever too.

If you choose the hard road, the road past demons, hate and pitfalls you will emerge on the other side a changed person. You will have to build this hard road so look at the faces that offer the hands and emulate their admirable traits. Search for those who feel, who are capable of giving and share with them what you have learned. You have as much to offer as you are as deserving of what you receive from them. Look to the future and find your passion and purpose. It is a place for you to grow into and only passion and purpose are big enough for one as resilient as you.

Most of all don’t forget the child that used to be. Mourn for them as you should, for they are the reminder that you are now the person you choose to be, if not the person you were born to be.

Originally posted at the The Good Men Project

Photo: Flickr/Dave Gingrich

Have You Seen a Man’s Heart?

Have you seen a man’s heart? Have you glimpsed the depth of emotion and feeling that lies within? I don’t think you have, not truly. You may look at the men of the world and think they are cold unfeeling brutes, to all outward appearances you would be right. A man’s heart is a very dangerous thing, it must be tamed, it must be controlled and at all costs it must be hidden from this world. The very fabric of society would be rent if men were allowed to use their hearts. Every stage of a man’s life our society is bent on ensuring a man’s heart is contained, it’s written so in our fairy tales, in our stereotypes, in our media and in our very thoughts. It is with good reason this must be so and if you feel you have seen a man’s heart be cautious and seek help, for that is a problem that must be resolved.

A man’s heart is a very dangerous thing.

Have you seen a little boy’s heart? So shiny and bright with hopes and dreams for the future, there is nothing this boy can’t do. His heart, so small and yet so large, big enough to feel all the ills and pain in the world around him and small enough to heal quickly. Big enough to show him courage and bravery, to take risks and overcome that which scares him yet tiny enough to be a fragile thing. The world is such a beautiful place to this boy, so wide and large and always another hill to see what lies on the other side. But men do not cry. When such things as a boys tears are loosed upon the world they must be shackled, controlled and converted; competition is the only outlet suitable for that which fills a boy’s heart. He must play societies game and learn how to win the acceptable prizes in life. If you see a boys heart prepare your shackles because such a sight cannot be left unaddressed.

Have you seen a teenage boy’s heart? Full of motion and action, he rebels at the constraints laid upon him and the world is his yet to change. So quickly does he grow, so fast does he see the world for what it is. We fill his mind with tales of knights, dragons and princesses but this is our snare. Oh so carefully do we divert him form learning the truth, that first he must learn to love himself; that love must come from within and it isn’t a prize to win. But men must not touch. At a time when a teenage boy begins to learn of love this should be stymied, strangled and bound. He is a rapist, a pillager, a plunderer and a monster; he will not know the boundaries such needs should have. He may want a simple hug from his mother, an embracing bond between his fellow man and a kiss from his first love but these he cannot have. He can never be trusted with such freedom for he does not know how dangerous he is. If you see a teenage boy’s heart prepare your bindings because such actions cannot go unchecked.

A man with passion cannot be trusted to act in the interests of everyone else.

Have you seen a man’s heart? So slow and sluggish, but oh so strong. With shackles and bindings, still it yet beats. Somehow he maintains his purpose and passion. He is capable of such great things, marvels beyond compare, wonders that never cease. But men must not show weakness. Such willfulness must be enclosed, corralled and caged; a prison in his own mind with bars forged of honor, duty and responsibility. Pain, uncertainty, fear, sadness, inaction and distress have no place in a man for how can we charge him with his roles if we believe him to be human. He must be the first to step in front of danger to protect those he loves, the first to sacrifice himself to provide for his family, the first to bear the pain of ill winds. There is nothing a man should not dare for honor, duty and responsibility and a man with passion cannot be trusted to act in the interests of everyone else. If you see a man’s heart unfettered and free, run.

If you see a man whose heart is free, flee as far and as fast as you can because an encounter with this man will leave you forever changed. A man whose heart is truly free is the most dangerous thing in existance; he is a dreamer, a visionary, an idealist. This is a man who still sees all that is good in the world; he will shine a light on all that you find dim and dark and show you the beauty that lies underneath. This is a man who believes he can make the world a better place; he will touch you with his love for this world and you will believe also that the world can be changed. This is a man who burns with a passion so deep it cannot be extinguished; a man who creates miracles and makes his very dreams come true. Flee because this is a man who has learned to love himself.

Originally posted at the Good Men ProjectHave You Seen a Man’s Heart?

Photo: Flickr/Juliana CoutinhoImage altered