September 7, 2002

More on Dr. Real

One quote that I should have included in the post below from Terrence Real's interview is this one:

"I'd like to see the culture change. I'd like to see more people like you doing interviews like this. When you think of the support that a young woman has, in breaking out of roles, Ms. Magazine and all the consciousness-raising groups, and you contrast that to the almost total aloneness a young man has in trying to break out of these roles, I think it's time for us to help a young man like that by creating some kind of a counter-movement or counter-wave that he can feel at home in. That's partly why I'm here."

To a great extent, that's what I think many men are doing through weblogging. The brave ones. You guys ARE the counter-culture movement among men. Men like Mike Golby, Marek, George S., George P., Ray, Tom S., Tom M., Craig Jensen, AKMA, Euan, Frank Paynter, Gary Turner, and of course the father of male truth bloggers and post 40s depression, RageBoy.

If Real is right, and cultural edicts are largely responsible for disconnecting men--under the guise of a survival mechanism for their very gender--then this is why so many men are "coming out" and reconnecting as bloggers. I know that Mike and Tom and Gary and George Partington go to work each day and do their thing--their semi-connected, make-the-best-of-it role which is necessary for their survival, to provide for the well-being of their families. I also know that they unleash parts of themselves in a very real and necessary way within their weblogs that the folks at work--sometimes even at home--don't get to see.

Men ARE reconnecting through weblogging. Not in the same way that women are--more subtle, more slowly--but perhaps in an even more important way. Somehow Real's notion that cultural edicts have taken power away from women and connections away from men seems just right when it comes to what we're doing here in Blogaria. Women are gaining power and voice in a way that's never been before, and men are connecting in ways that are rare and special and human.

Food for thought. And you guys are braver than I knew.

the night that the lights went out in georgia?

Well it seems as though my state of personal reflection of late has taken me away from some---uh---fundamental responsibilities---uh--like paying bills. Or, well, like not bouncing checks. Much to my dismay and without any sort of my typical panic, I realized today, after reading some unopened mail, that I have bounced two checks to Cobb EMC, the lovely power fuckers that provide our gas and electric service.


It all started when work cut me a paper check, after four years of direct deposits, without me knowing it. The check got here three days late, and needless to say, my checking account -- shakey on a good day -- danced itself into an amazing downward spiral that I, given my current detached emotional state, have watch like a made-for-tv movie. I wonder at it. Mainly, that's what I express. Everything is full of wonder for me now. Even things that used to scare me. Like fiscal mismanagement.

Which is to say, the letter from Cobb EMC also said if the redeposit of the check bounced, which it did last night, I would be subject to an immediate disconnect. I hope to straighten it out on Monday, but if I go dark for a while, literally, you know why.

Doesn't help that all my phones are cordless.... which is to say... cordfull, as they all "plug in."

Send energy. And maybe Quicken.


Depression: the word of the day

Marek isn't the only one feeling it. George isn't the only one writing about it. You guys know who you are. Read this 1998 interview with Dr. Terry Real who tackles the whys and wherefores of male depression in a way that's incredibly new, refreshing, and I think accurate. Dr. Real's book, I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, is worth reading, for both men and women.

Some of what he says in the interview I've pulled out and posted here:

"Here's what it boils down to. As a culture, it's like we've taken a piece of paper and drawn a line down the center, saying that everything on this side of the line is feminine and everything on the other side is masculine, and woe unto that little boy or little girl who dares to cross that line. Women have been complaining for the last generation about the forces that have brought to bear on women to stay on their side of the line and the consequences of that. My work is about the reciprocal story for the boy. The half of the humanity that girls have been pressured out of has to do with power. The part that boys have been pressured out of has to do with connection."

"Let me say something about the idea of depression as an auto-aggressive disease. I wish I could take credit for it, but Sigmund Freud is the one. He didn't use that phrase, but he talked about depression as aggression turned against one's self. The thing that's important about that is understanding that the root of male depression is violence. And the core of gender socialization for little boys is violence. The way that we "turn boys into men" in this culture is through severance. We turn boys away from their mothers, from their hearts, from other people. The cost of this is disconnection, a disconnection I call the normal traumatization of boys. What happens is that men have overt depression take this violence and turn it in on themselves. Men who have covert depression don't want to bear this violence. I don't blame them. They either try to run from it through intoxication or burying themselves, or they inflict it on other people."

"Once you start to hit the geyser of those raw feelings, it's very tempting to act out. I've been there. You're in a rage, you're hurt. You don't want to feel the pain. Somebody walks into our face and crosses you, and you're not a very pleasant person to be around. The other thing is that a person can be in touch their wounds until they're blue in the face. I know a lot of guys who are working their wounds, but they're still creeps to be around. In the work that I do, I talk about two inner children. I learned this from Pia Mellody. There's the wounded child, who was young, who was on the receiving end of the abuse. But there's also the adaptive child, which is the part of you that took on the mores, the privileges, the false empowerment and the point of view of the perpetrator."

"The very phrase 'be a man' means 'disconnect.' Disconnect from your own feelings and play through the pain. The thing that people are tumbling onto is that the other word for these transactions is violence, trauma. Men walk around with these deep, deep wounds, coupled with an entitlement to mishandle these wounds by irresponsible addictive or violent measures. When you have a hurt little boy walking around in a big, grown man's body, with centuries of male prerogative, that's a pretty volatile combination."

There's lots more. And it's worth reading.


Silence paints
memories of you
on me
like leaves
from the willow,
majestic shade,
even the stump
is gone.

never enough
to drink,
sought something
from the concrete
and gave up.
Fresh water was there
all along.

But then.

Not knowing
what you know
only me knowing
I love you.

tries to find a
way in,
to erase us,
but can't.



So I called her, for the first time in over a month. Me at 40, detached. Finally. And she wept and apologized and begged. Asked forgiveness. I listened. Did not follow her down that ruinous path. I said this instead:

"Every interaction I've had with you
has been affected by your drinking.
I cannot have that in my life anymore."

waited. hoping for I don't know what.

"I understand."

Acknowledgement without excuses. My fears true. A year ago I didn't know what was false; now I know so much is false--and maybe I understand one truth: the fundamental truth in addiction is the need/compulsion to do something--sometimes anything--to mask incredible pain. Without getting to the pain, the addiction remains. And in some cases, when the addiction is so entrenched, the addiction has to go first, before you can touch the pain.

So many people in pain. So much ruin. An endless circle of tragedy.

Breaking the cycle.

She tells me she's at the end of her journey, that something better awaits her. In other words, I've been doing this too long to change now. I wish I understood that. But I'm not 70. She tells me that if I'm alright, she's alright. And again I want to scream, stop living through me. It is an incredible weight, that need to be okay for you. I am no longer willing to carry it.

With this knowledge, an amazing burden has been lifted. I try not to let sadness replace it.

I used to tell her "When you get little and I get big," and whatever followed that was a reflection of my illusion that we would one day trade places. She'd be the little girl, I'd be the mother. That was even after I knew that parents die, because my father had. But somehow, I thought with her: "When you get little and I get big, I'll take care of you." But you see, I already *was* taking care of her at a great cost to me. No more. I've known that for months. But I said it. My voice. Strong.

Underneath it all I am alone.

Through my window concrete pain.
Rippling with the heat off my driveway, whisps of joy.
Beginning to discern which is which.

September 3, 2002


the scream is real.

come out
come to be
from behind
the first
see you/me

thawing cracking
I'm in my father's skin
I'm in my father's skin
looking out
seeing her
for the first time
undoing of
to remembering

no net
no skin
behold what
you fear
it's more than
it's more than
bend the frame
twist and knott

September 2, 2002

Be who I need you to be or I'll cease to exist, and so will you.

When you're face to face with a time of complete undoing, you know it. Not any one thing--everything. Not depression, revelation. Not maturity, rebirth. Not pleasant, painful. Agony. I've been writing for a while now about feeling that everything I ever thought was so wasn't. But I didn't know what I meant. I just knew that the thread of me was weakening, fraying. Now, the flashes hit several times a day, make me scream out, oh no oh yes I see.

I can't get the words out without sounding trite, blaming, petty. Blame your mother--so cliche. So I'm quiet. You would have to be able to see the thousands of pieces assembled to understand the power each piece had on me individually while I was growing up (the first time around). What you don't know about is the neurotic need she fostered in me because she needed it, had to have it to live herself, how she replaced my father with me as her feeding ground after he gave up and died. That is the little girl who prayed every night in terror well into her teenage years that if her mother were to die, please God take me too. The 17 year old who tried to open the door of a moving car and jump out upon news that she'd be going away for two weeks. The adolescent and college girl obsessed with confessing, asking absolution, trying to drive her away--test her--do you love me still?

But it was never love because it was conditional on her layering and devouring of me. Her love was based on me feeding her exactly what she needed, her then feeding me everything I didn't need, and I was so good at keeping the cycle going. It was all I ever knew. Her light on me, nothing felt as good. And yet, she undermined me--set out to ruin my beauty as it threatened her spotlight. Set out to ruin me emotionally so I would need her always. Keep me. Eat me. Drink my blood. This is narcisism. Now, add alcoholism on top of that, and you see my wall of denial build itself.

When you have a child, you begin to see your parents for who they really are. In my case, the lifting curtain reveals monsters--pitiful monsters. Having removed my mother's voice from my head for the first time in my life--not speaking or hearing a word in well over a month--I know why she kept up the constant drone, the noise. When the noise falls away, the truth creeps in.

It's not like this is a huge revalation. It's been happening since Jenna was born, and intensely over this past year. But for the first time I'm embracing this loss and using it to heal ME to build ME.

I can't tell you all about it because there is too much to tell. I do not want to write "about" the place I'm in right now, but from it. But I thought you deserved to know where I was, kind blog friends; you continue to give me the gifts of wonder and hope.