I was raised as a man but I was never shown how to be a man. Like so many, I was most impacted by my experiences in the school system. In the school system I found the Divine Masculine hid itself in the fog of male-to-male and peer-to-peer aggression, bullying, shame, fear and confusion. The vulnerable man, the sensitive man, the quite man, the observant man, was not only hidden but, if uncovered, was attacked. I was not taught to be a man in the school system, in fact, I was taught how not to be a man, and here is how.

I learned that in order to be safe I had to laugh at pain instead of feel it. This led me to disassociate from my emotional world and created a lack of empathy for others. It led me to find humor in things like pranks, put-downs, and general bullying.

I learned that in order to be heard I had to speak over others. This led me to have underdeveloped listening skills both in voice and body-language communication. It led me to lack the ability to negotiate and find healthy compromise with others. It led me to dismiss other perspectives, beliefs, approaches and indeed, feelings.

I learned that in order to be loved I had to pretend I didn’t need love. This led me to push people away when I, in fact, desperately needed help and support. It led me to resent and feel repelled by others that outwardly expressed a desire for love. It led me to keeping myself at a distance from real connection and real depth lest I reveal my need for love. It led me to misunderstand and have inhibited forms of physical affection.

I learned that in order to be strong I could not be vulnerable. This led me to create a critical and shaming part inside of myself that attacked my own vulnerability. It led me to attack the vulnerability of my peers. It led to the belief that strength meant aggression. It created overly-defensive parts that were quick to physically and emotionally attack others if I felt I was being seen as vulnerable.

I am fortunate to have found ways throughout my school system years to tap into the Divine Masculine, to be able to feel, to be able to express feeling, to be able to share vulnerability, to be able to show true strength. I used poetry and punk rock to help me step out of the dominant culture, to form a relationship with the Divine, and to allow myself to heal and grow in ways that made sense to me. I feel so fortunate for the small group of peers I had that shared love together as best as we could. I feel a great gratitude for having a loving father that modeled sensitivity, listening, affection and strength. Without them, and without poetry, and without punk rock, I don’t know if I could have gotten to where I am, with the awareness that I have. But even with these assets, it has taken me years and years and years to develop a connection with these very basic human qualities that are empathy, vulnerability, and strength, just to name a few. It has taken me years and years and years to undo concepts of being a man that not only are inaccurate but incredibly damaging for the individual and our human community.

When I remember those days and I remember how much pain there was, my heart breaks for those that are experiencing the residuals of that trauma or are going through it right now. I know this pain from the perspective of being raised as a man. This is my opportunity to be one voice amongst many that can share with other men, for other men, not to exclude the hurt of other populations or humanity as a whole, but rather to give attention to those men that need it so we all can reap the rewards of Divine Masculinity. I share in order to bring awareness, to bring acknowledgement, to bring compassion and most importantly, to bring healing to ourselves, to our culture, and to the generations to come.

This is an opportunity for us ALL to unite, to share our traumas, to unburden ourselves, to find compassion for one another, and to help each other heal and to grow. We are, all of us, connected and what healing we do over there will help heal us right here and vice versa. Bringing attention to healing men does not take away from healing other groups or humanity as a whole, it only enhances and unites us all further.

Learning what being a man really means is still unfolding for me, but I am certain it does not include toxicity but that toxicity is the outcome of trauma and trauma can be integrated and healed with love. Understanding the influence of our actions while being able to take responsibility for those actions is a vital part of acknowledging our own hurt and how we may have contributed to the hurt of others.

Thank you for reading and providing an outlet for healing. Much love to you!