Every Time You Say “YOU,” You Will Pay!

The rule for men and women’s communication before, say Adam and Eve, was to not talk much about anything.  Adam never told Eve how he felt about the apple thing. Then there was a huge communication advance somewhere around the 80’s – “When you say or do, I feel…,” and then you would fill in the blank – “When you don’t show up on time I feel angry, disappointed, hurt,” etc.  To be sure this was a great break from the silent treatment.

I’ve had many clients say to me, “Well, I learned in couples’ counseling to say to my husband, ‘When “YOU” don’t make love to me often, I feel rejected, not sexy, not beautiful, and I need “YOU” to find me attractive.’”

“What did he say?” I asked. “Did you feel heard – really listened to?”

“Not at all! He got defensive and said in his harshest tone, ‘Damn, baby, “YOU” know I find you attractive. I married you, and it just seems like “YOU” are just too needy sometimes.”

Here’s what I used to do when I was not very smart just so you’ll know I learned the hard way what I’ve said so far. When I was young and dumb – when I was upset, disappointed, annoyed and even angry or hurt – “YOU” need to stop saying… or Why don’t “YOU…?” If only “YOU” would stop or start or, God forbid, I wish “YOU” would get some damn therapy. Well let’s just say my track record was not very good for this, and many other reasons, and that’s why I had to do what seems like 10,000 hours of therapy.

About 20 plus years ago I thought, “Why do I need to say, ‘When you say this, I feel…?’ Why not just say what I feel?” In other words, tell my lover, partner, parent, friend, child – “I feel…;” “I need…;” “I want;” “I hurt;” “I’m sad;” or “I’m angry.” Now you really smart people will say, “But how will they know why I’m sad or angry or hurt if I don’t tell them?”  When you take out the “YOU’S,” they can usually listen, and more often than not, even ask questions, like “Tell me what is wrong?” or “Tell me more.” If you don’t have to fend off any “YOU’S,” guess what happens — a conversation, communication — just imagine that.

So this is how most arguments or fights go, but don’t really go anywhere.

I’m going to tell about “YOU,” what you’re doing or saying, and how you’re wrong. Then he or she is going to tell “YOU” how “YOU” didn’t say that.

We tell the other person what they just did wrong, or “YOU” are not saying it right, and then you tell him/her, and they tell you, and this is a four-hour marathon where at the end I don’t know anymore about “YOU” and “YOU” don’t know any more about me – and I jokingly say, “This is too often called marriage?”

Every time you say the word, “YOU,” you will pay when you’re having a conflict, confrontation, or argument because there’s something about the word “YOU” that triggers people unless it’s followed by a compliment, and if not, we get our buttons pushed, or worse case, we really regress. As soon as I say “YOU” – the person almost always goes into defense mode. Hell, you may have already stopped reading this and are preparing a defensive rebuttal, and that is what most people do when they’ve had enough “YOU’S” hurled at them – they stop listening. “You” throws many into flight, fight, or freeze.

“I,” on the other hand, says, “Let me tell you about me, and then I want to hear your thoughts and feelings about this.” “I” tends to keep me in my adult self, my new brain, my neo-cortex.

…The truth is you turned away yourself,

and decided to go into the dark alone.

Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten

   what you once knew,

and that’s why everything you do has some weird

  failure in it.

From Kabir translated by Robert Bly

Seven Years to Seven Minutes

It ain’t dying’ I’m talking about, it’s living…”

Gus in Lonesome Dove

Hold on, there’s a good and true ending.

Let’s say your doctor tells you (God forbid), “You have seven years to live.”

Here are the four questions I had to ask myself when I did this exercise:

  1. Where will you go?
  2. What will you do?
  3. Who will you take with you?
  4. What are you waiting on?

When I answered these questions at seven years, I said I’d live in my mountain cottage in the pigmy southern Appalachians and travel to Austin. I’d continue to write and see clients part-time and would take my wife with me to both places.

Okay, now your doctor didn’t read the x-ray report correctly and he said, “Sorry, you only have seven months.”

Then I answered the same four questions. I was surprised by how those answers changed. The answers really changed when it got to seven weeks, and dramatically changed when told seven hours and then seven minutes.

Well, I did this exercise with a good man who came for a two-day Intensive Session with me in my mountain retreat. He had literally been told his cancer would take him in six to eight months.

Long story short – when I asked him the four questions with only seven months to live, he said: “I want to take all my old friends and family to the Redwood Forest in California and find a tree that we could make a circle around, lay down on the ground and hold hands.”

What a beautiful image he placed in my head. I asked him the last of the four questions: “What are you waiting on?”

He replied: “That’s asking an awful lot – the money for airline tickets, car rentals, etc., etc.”

I’ll come back to this in a moment.

His wife was with him and I asked her to come in the studio where I had a daybed.

I told him and her, “Now you only have seven minutes to live, and I’m going to step outside and give you your privacy.”

I had no idea what would happen. When the bell rang, I went back in and they were spooning and weeping and laughing. The wife wiped away some tears and said, “He told me something he’s never told me in 35 years of marriage.”

I never asked what that was – it was theirs’ only.

About a half-year later, his wife called me to tell me two things. The first was that he and she and 14 family and friends went to that magnificent forest, circled a tree and held hands. Not one person he asked declined. The second thing was that he was peaceful, serene and beautiful in the days before he went. He knew he was deeply loved.”

I ask you to try the exercise and answer the four questions, and then answer this fifth question posed by one of the greatest poets, Mary Oliver:

“…Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

~ The Summer Day

 

They Love You – In Their Own Way

When I was a boy the conversation went something like this: “Mom, does dad love me?”

“Of course he does son, in his own way.”

“Then why doesn’t he show it or tell me he loves me?

“He just can’t son, but trust me he does.”

As a young adult the conversation would often go like this: “John, do you love me?”

“Sure I do. You know I do.”

“Then why don’t you ever tell me you love me?”

“Why do you keep asking me? I’m here ain’t I?”

A whole lot of people – young and old – don’t get loved the way they need. Many good people try to practice the “Golden Rule” when it comes to love: “Do unto others the way you would have them do unto you.” Not bad! But what happens as they treat you the way they want to be treated, loved, adored, cherished and respected?

So for some time (though I have failed many times) I try to practice what I call “The Platinum Rule:” Do unto others the way they have been longing probably their whole lives.

In other words, send your loved ones and show your loved ones the love they need instead of the way we wanted to be love by our mothers, fathers, lovers, ex-girlfriends, or past husbands, wives, and yes, even our children.

When I ask my clients who are wrestling with love, “How do you want to be loved?” More often than not (especially men) will say, “I don’t know. No one has ever asked me that question and I’ve never asked myself.”

Then I might say, “Have you ever asked your loved ones how they want to be loved?”

“No, but they all know I love them in my own way.”

One client said, “Well I don’t want to tell them how I want to be loved. They should know after all this time. If you have to ask, then it doesn’t count.”

One time I said in response, “If I ask you to buy a new Volvo and you say yes and you do, do you think I’m going to say take it back because I had to ask you?” Hell, no! I’ll drive it with a smile.

“Alright then,” as we say in the South:

  1. Become aware of how you want to be loved.
  2. Ask your loved ones how they want to be loved.
  3. Tell everyone you really love what makes you feel loved.
  4. Occasionally ask your loved ones this question: “How well am loving you?”

And then, to quote the great American wise man, James Taylor, “Shower the people you love with love…”

Masculinity

Masculinity means so many different things depending on who you ask. In 1991 there was a meeting set up by Warren Farrell, one of the earliest pioneers in men’s issues, at his mountain retreat in California. A dozen or so of us so-called leaders of the Men’s Movement were invited to come and share our thoughts, feelings, and positions regarding the question of what true masculinity was, among other topics, including whether or not the Men’s Movement should be politicized like the earlier Women’s Movement.

By the way, this is where I got to be friends with poet Robert Bly. He and I shared a cabin together and it allowed us to start a relationship as equals and colleagues for over 20 years. This relationship helped to forge my understanding of my own masculinity.

It is kind of ironic that the recognized Father of the Men’s Movement was a character like Robert Bly. He is one of the most sensitive, kind, generous, and generative men I’ve had the pleasure to know, learn from, work beside and be friends with. It took a wild-haired bear of a man who is a poet and a master storyteller of fairytales and ancient fables to lead men right down into their well of pain. Here is a man who blends intelligence, emotion, music, poetry, passion and love of all things into what would be considered a new definition of masculinity.

As for the question, should the Men’s Movement be politicized, Robert and I, and a couple of other early pioneers, Shepherd Bliss and Aaron Kipnis, agreed that the Men’s Movement should focus on an interior journey, not an exterior one. Women had to become political to assert their rights as equals in every way to the predominant male culture. Robert and I said, “We’ve been political; let’s go into our souls, bodies, and hearts” for answers on how to live in the 20th and 21st centuries. Poetry – his own, Rumi’s, Hafiz’s, Machado’s, Jimenez’s, and dozens of others – was a way inward, and fairytales would help those of us who listened as he said – often accompanying himself on his Greek instrument, the bazuki – “We’re leaving our time now.”

One of the main reasons I was asked to attend this little-known conference was due to my approach to masculinity. I felt, believed and taught through workshops and writing that men who are abusing alcohol, anger, rage, and drugs should sober up and discover who they really are under all the layers of addictions.

Both Robert and I are adult children of alcoholics, which greatly impeded our growth and development of our masculinity; we talked about this and other issues while we shared that cabin and for 20 years after.

So what is masculinity? I can tell you much more easily what it is NOT.

True masculinity is not John Wayne movies.

True masculinity is not who has the biggest cock or stock options.

True masculinity is not homophobic, xenophobic, anti-feminine or anti-feminist.

True masculinity is not full of rage.

True masculinity is not oppressive.

True masculinity is as tender as it is tough and tenacious.

True masculinity is a balance between the wild and the sensitive.

True masculinity is not afraid of being called names like prissy, pussy, or fags because we read, write poetry, play music, sing to our brothers,’ fathers,’ and sons’ souls.

True masculinity mentors the young men and women.

True masculinity weeps, mourns, celebrates, laughs, wonders, looks at how we were wounded and how we have wounded others and our planet.

I could go on, but the truth is that true or deep masculinity changes over time with new information and experiences and at different stages of life. It changes as the seasons of a man’s life change. My own sense of masculinity at 67 is somewhat the same as it was at 35 but also much different. My masculinity now includes a kind of patience my younger masculine self did not have with people, processes and life in general. My masculinity incorporates the old Arabic saying, “Haste is of the devil, slowness is of God.” My masculinity, while still a little competitive, doesn’t do harm to other men. My masculinity finally learned lovemaking is 100 times better than fucking women I don’t know hardly or at all. My masculinity sits on the porch much more often and drinks coffee and eats banana nut bread without worrying about calories. My masculinity demands I stay in shape, but my ego is not damaged if I don’t, and as my old friend, Martín Prechtel, would say at our men’s conferences, “Long life and honey in the heart.”

Third Act

Scene 1

I’m an aging man sitting with his three dogs in a rented house way out of my price range. Divorced now for five and one-half years, I share custody with my ex of the Malamute, Benji dog and Baby Bella, the dachshund mix.

Now you folks reading this who are under 50, keep reading because you’ll get here someday, and the 50 and over, let’s talk about being relevant. We know we have a lot less life in front of us than we do behind us. But like the rearview mirror says, if you’re still able to drive, “objects may appear closer than they really are” (or something like that).

Those objects are former careers, ex wives and husbands, grown children, large homes we’ve had to sell and have scaled down to smaller apartments, condos and tiny houses, some of you with your partner of over 25 years, barely fit in those small spaces. Let’s be honest – some of us have put on a little weight, or at least I have.

If you are able to keep your house, you spend an inordinate amount of time mowing the yard, weed eating around your fence or sidewalk or fixing something all the time whether it’s broken or not. Perhaps you have a small garden or play 36 holes of golf every day when your aching joints or back will allow.

You retired prematurely instead of becoming re-inspired or re-imagined your future. Your pilot light went out, or so you think. Well, hell let’s reignite the damn thing! That’s how we stay relevant.

How does one do that when life’s matches are so hard to find and even some of those are moldy with age like some of us?

Scene 2

First, I had to accept my stage of life and the fact that I’m 67, even though in my head I think I’m 40, but with a really messed up body – damn arthritis. Second, I had to grieve the loss of my 40-year-old body which also includes my former devilish good looks and see my baby blues disappearing from sight. Third, and most importantly, I had to accept that I don’t know how to do my Third Act and stop beating myself up for not knowing and begin to learn.

You folks just getting to your Second Act, or coming to an end of it, you’re not supposed to know either – so cut yourself some slack and start asking us older folks – and that right there is a way we can stay relevant.

Scene 3

Here are a few ways to stay engaged and energized. If you wanted to be an actor but became a banker, go to your local community theatres and try out or work backstage.

If you were a teacher, volunteer to teach inner-city youth or community college or a seniors’ class at the assisted living facility. A carpenter can volunteer for Habitat for humanity – a plumber, electrician – same. Policeman/woman, fire fighter, doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief, help the poor and the homeless, write your memoirs, take classes in something you’ve always wanted to learn. Create, create, create a second career. Yes, I know you have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Showtime, Sundance – go ahead and watch a movie now and then, but don’t sit too long. As Einstein said, “A body in motion…”, or as the poet Rumi said, “Let the beauty we love, be what we do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

I know for a fact that the Third Act is less than total fun, but since we’re on this side of the grass, never stop asking the questions: “What do I love?” and “What is next?”

Designated Problem: Let’s Get Rid of the Label

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves. C.G. Jung

“Mend his life.” “You really need help.” “Fix her.” “If he would just get into therapy.” “If she would only stop drinking.” “We’d be all right then.”

No, you wouldn’t be and neither would they. You see, one of the greatest barriers for people to overcome is being the “Designated Problem” in the family, marriage, or workplace.

The label impedes the growth and healing of everyone concerned. When all the focus and attention is put on the alcoholic, addict, non-communicator, the one unable to be in touch with their feelings or their reality – that’s just too much weight on anybody’s shoulders. The shame, embarrassment, and guilt is enough to make anyone unable to really change.

For over 35 years I’ve worked with angry, depressed, aggressive, traumatized men and women, and one of the first things I do is help them see the truth: that it is the system, dynamic or context that is the real culprit.

You see, even if the Problem Person does deep psychological, emotional and spiritual work and grows and changes, if he or she goes back to a toxic workplace, an untreated family, or a dysfunctional marriage, he or she will soon be the Designated Problem again, and again break everyone’s heart and hope.

For decades I was the designated problem in my family—the outcast, black sheep, troublemaker, alcoholic. No wonder my shoulders were bowed to the ground all through my twenties. Lord, the therapy and recovery I had to do to lift that burden!

I wrote about my work in the men’s and recovery movements in The Flying Boy: Healing the Wounded Man and Flying Boy Book II: The Journey Continues and aired my family’s less than clean laundry, and my own problems with relationships, alcohol and not knowing a feeling if it bit me on the ass. My dad and I didn’t speak for ten years he was so angry. Back then I was beginning to see that there was more to these problems than just me, my dad or my girlfriends.

“We” are the problem – wife as well as husband, children, grandparents, and even the babysitter. We all are the problem.

Most of us, I know I did, have to turn to an objective, third-party like a therapist, coach, sponsor, who can help to more readily identify each person’s patterns of behaviors, problems, histories, hang-ups and character defects, and I promise the formerly so-called Designated Problem will get better – indeed we all will.

So when you think you are or they are the sick ones, remember Rumi’s words: “The fault is in the blamer. Spirit sees nothing to criticize.”

What Now?

Thoughts and Poetic Direction

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. Yogi Berra

No matter what age you are or what stage of life you are in you will come to Berra’s forks in the road. Most folks have four prongs pointing forward, none to the past unless you turn the fork on yourself and stick it in you to see if you’re done. People ask me all the time, “When will I be done?” My silly reply has always been the same, “Only steaks get done.”

Alright you’ve lost a relationship, parent, career, your youth, or a home. I, by the way, have lost all of these the last couple of years and I’ve asked myself this question every day: “So what now?” 

For many this question gets harder the older some of us get. But most of us are driven to seek out the answers anyway. Some of us go slowly and tease the answers out like pulling cotton from its stubborn boll or taking a pearl out of an oyster that doesn’t want you to have the “great prize.” Others attack the question like a bull in the china shop only to get hooked by our own horns – hooked on drugs or alcohol or other numbing processes to make us think we’re really searching for the answers, but we’re not.

To put all of this in a more poetic way, if we’re not careful during these difficult times we may, to quote William Stafford, “following the wrong god home we may miss our star.”

Perhaps you are having to do what I’m doing – drawing on the support of new and old friends even though sometimes making contact using my 300-pound cell phone to call them when I’d rather pull my comforter over my head and go back to sleep. I’ve also enlisted the help of a new therapist – nope, I’m not done with therapy or 12-step meetings.

I also have to keep cultivating good crops of patience, something I don’t grow very well because I want the answers to “What now?” When? Now, damit!

Then I re-read T.S. Eliot’s words one more time:

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Another thing I try to remember is to pay deep attention to my body and a little less to my mind – thank you T.S.

I recall the words of the Sufi poet Rumi: “Let the body speak openly now without your saying a word, as a student’s walking behind a teacher says, this one knows more clearly the way.”

And if I don’t listen to my body during these tough transitional times and slow everything down I will commit way too many errors in my impulsive decision making and end up like another of Rumi’s poems:

  Who makes these changes?

  I shoot an arrow right.

  It lands left.

  I ride after a deer and find myself

  Chased by a hog.

  I plot to get what I want

  And end up in prison.

  I dig pits to trap others

  And fall in.

  I should be suspicious

  Of what I want.

Translated by Coleman Bark

So I hope this short post, while not answering yours or my question: “What now?” provides a little comfort and some poetic pointers to the way forward.

You are not alone and I’ll give Rilke the last words for now: “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror…” and “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…”

Why We Can’t Be Rejected

“When we lose someone and we find ourselves, we win.” Anonymous

One of my best, dearest friends I’ll call K has broken all contact. She doesn’t call; she doesn’t write; she doesn’t send flowers or return texts, and seemingly doesn’t miss me at all. My psychologist brain says, “don’t take it personally.” My human heart says, “she has rejected me and it hurts.” But here’s the truth. You and I can be dismissed, avoided, shunned, hell even banished but we cannot be rejected.

You readers will say, “Well you’re just wrong. My boyfriend rejected me last week.” “My father has always rejected me.” “My best friend hasn’t spoken to me in over a year. Don’t tell me she hasn’t rejected me.”

No one can reject us. Here’s why – because it’s never about us. We are the creators of, not only our outer worlds but our interior ones as well and what we are drawn to or deny is already in us lying loose, latent or floating down that ole’ river D-nial.
I was well into my 50s, having “felt” and “thought” I’d been rejected numerous times before it became clear to me, thanks in large part due to my long-time therapist and mentor, Dr. James Maynard.

You see, I lived my relationship life foolishly thinking that if I was attracted to a girlfriend or other loved ones it was because something was in them that was not in me – that perhaps it was their lovely disposition that pulled me into their orbit. They were “attractive” because of their looks, spirituality, intelligence, groundedness, sense of humor, etc. all things that my low self-esteem told me I lacked.

What James and decades of experiences showed me was that real attraction for others, and they to me, emanates from within and goes out to them. Attraction thus is self-generated, rather than coming from the other person and when I’m no longer attracted to someone or I’ve integrated their qualities I stop generating the interest in them but I do not reject them nor they me.

This truth becomes obvious I hope in Rumi’s poem:

The minute I heard my first love story
I went looking for you, not knowing
How blind that was. Lovers don’t
Finally meet somewhere, they’ve been
in other all along.     Translated by Coleman Barks

Those we love who we think are rejecting us are rejecting those things in themselves they are no longer able to pull out of their own inner or outer shadowy part of themselves that they projected onto us.

A woman I loved a long time ago and am still good friends with I’ll call B was extremely intelligent and cleaned houses for a living when I met her while giving a lecture at a local university. She was also a nurturer, mother and possessed boundless sexual energy. I was a counselor, writer, still too much in my head and anything but a nurturing, parenting person, with little to no domestic inclinations at the time. Of course we got together. During those four years later – I became a pretty good step-father with a greater inclination to nurture and after we went to many therapy sessions we broke up. Once again at first I thought she had rejected me. To make a long story short she went back to school and got a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is one of the best working therapists.

A couple of years later I got married to Susan, bought a home and we set out to have children that hopefully I would spend a lot more time with than I would in hotels and conference centers.

broken heartGoing back to K – she left, either because she saw things in me that she was not ready to embrace or already had successfully embraced or perhaps never needed and therefore I guess I rejected the “sunny” disposition she had in abundance while I was my grieving my despairing divorce. She rejected my “old age” and perhaps I rejected the youth she possessed but was still somewhere in me even though I was having a terrible time finding it. She rejected my seriousness, and damit, I rejected the spontaneity I saw in her that I have always longed to have more of and on and on. Our paths diverged because I needed to access all that she manifested, and she either needed to access some of what she saw in me, but to be clear, neither of us did anything wrong nor did we “reject” the other.

When I said in my earlier book, Writing From the Body, that people tend to be drawn to artists because they dream of being creative but they’ve been told that they are not, or they are afraid to succeed or fail having way too many credit cards, cars and a house payment they feel they must pay off first. However, “If we spot it, we got it,” as the old AA saying goes. So we tend to “acquire” the artistic creative person instead of “accessing” the artist, writer or the tender, compassionate domestic, nurturing, sexy person we’ve been all along.

So the next time you or I “feel” rejected see Solutions below:

  1. Make a list of the qualities, characteristics, attitudes, traits you have found in other and acknowledge and further develop them in yourself.
  2. Remember the attraction for others starts inside you and proceeds outwards, and as the Indian poet Kabir says, “I say to my inner lover, why such a rush…” because I say he or she has always been inside us waiting for us to stop projecting onto others.

CLOSURE: A Made-Up Relationship Term

If you’re going home for the holidays, trying to recover from a divorce, a break-up or really any transition, change or loss may I suggest we stop looking for Closure.

Closure is, according to the dictionary, “a psychological term that describes and individual’s desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion to ambiguity.” And it is a “set has closure under an operation if performance of that operation on members of the set…” I never understood math or calculus and people are not mathematical equations. And just because we long for lost love, happier childhoods, better outcomes of all kinds and what we wish would be, never gets finished like a math problem or a business deal. The idea of closure is a therapist’s shell game – find the closure pea under one of three cups. The therapeutic community tries hard to not know there was never any pea in the first place. Closure is a made up modern psychological word. It probably came into use sometime in the 60s. Perhaps Gestalt therapy, Primal, EST, later Forum and Insight, all agreed we should seek this state in order to move on. Moving on does not require closure.

You see after each failed relationship, no matter how bitter or sweet the ending, we still think about them when we see someone who looks like them in an airport. On a holiday we see them in the window of a passing Toyota, and if we don’t see them there, we see them in our dreams or at the very least, we hear “our song” on the radio.

My first love, mostly unrequited, on-again-off-again, high school and college sweetheart and lifetime friend, got married very young to a very unkind man. However, we saw each other at class reunions, funerals, weddings and sometimes late at night when neither of us could sleep we’d call and talk for hours. No matter how many hours of therapy I did looking for this enigmatic, amorphous thing called closure, I never found it. However, we explored the option of being together for decades. The closest thing to it was the four hours we spent in a Hampton Inn in downtown Austin when she learned she would be leaving this world thanks to the curse of cancer. We sat down and told each other everything in-between loud sobs, laughter and watching the other customers nervously leave the restaurant. You know I still think about her. I’m writing a novel with her as the main character. Now anyone reading this might think I need more therapy and you’d be right – one can never get enough says this therapist of 35 years and counting.

For those of you like hard research – 3,000 men and women were asked on a questionnaire would they consider remarrying their ex-spouse if they were available? 70% said they would definitely consider it. So much for closure. Do you know how many people marry their high-school or college sweetheart after their spouse dies? Me either, but it is quite a few.

Okay literature and movie aficionados, look at literary books published before the 60s. Steinbeck’s Joad family did not find closure in California, no closure in Hemingway, Fitzgerald and certainly none in Faulkner, Hawthorne or Huckleberry Finn and there is not even any in the Bible.

“Oh, Rhett, why can’t we just get closure?” “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn…”

Bogart and Bacall or Spencer Tracy never found it.

Hans Solo never even thought to ask.

Even Butch and Sundance remain frozen in time.

Finally, I bet you never heard your grandparents or parents, if you are over 40, use the “C” word.

The bottom line, some people leave us and some people come back and some leave us again and the parents, siblings, former best friends aren’t now who they were, they are ghosts that still haunt us, memories of who and what they were like and how things used to be like or never were. If one of my best friends, who left me for reasons unknown, was to appear today at my door, she could never close up the sorrow of the she who left. If my father, who is still alive at 90, and I tried to get “closure” with the 30-year-old father he was, is impossible. That young, green father is dead and gone. The feelings we have that make us seek closure are coming from memories we have of the past and the illusions we have of our futures should go.

SOLUTIONS—

1. A line from a Robert Bly poem, “The people we have loved, we will always love…”

2. Use your therapy money to help you find resolution – oh wait, that is Closure’s kissing cousin, never mind.

3. The word closure originated from the word “enclosure” and that is what we really do at the end of a relationship. We build an enclosure in our hearts and at the same time we let go as best as we can, and never let anyone tell you when you have grieved too long.

So What’s the Holdup on Being Held?

As Part II to my previous post, “Isn’t It Touching,” I thought touch-starved men might be interested in considering the following ideas.

  1. Most men either have one male friend who lives in Russia or Tasmania, but they haven’t  met face to face in 30 years, or they have none – solution? Get more men in your life.
  2. Where to go to get a healthy male hug or simply to be held? Men’s gatherings like the one I led two weeks ago in the mountains of North Georgia – 70 good men with Mentor Discover Inspire (MDI)! 12-Step Programs that sober men attend. Go to a Mankind Weekend – an excellent place for male comradery.
  3. Stop settling for bullshit conversations sometimes, not always, but talk and listen to what is going on inside of them and you.
  4. Deal with the “Moral Injury” perpetrated on you by boys and men and the hurt and injury we have done to other men.  (Definition of Moral Injury: An injury, a wound to an individual’s moral conscience and compass when men witness or fail to prevent acts that go against deeply held codes of conduct. Moral injury is a betrayal of what’s right and often results in PTSD because of unprocessed grief, guilt, anger, embarrassment and shame.)
  5. Remember C.G. Jung’s words, “Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” So don’t condemn men who need to be touched, and for God’s sake, don’t condemn yourself for still being a live, breathing, touch-starved man.