Posted in Longreads & Essays, Musings

Depression 1.6 – Tough Enough To Talk About It

(From November 9, 2011)

Recently my wife asked me what book I was reading.

“I Don’t Want To Talk About It,” I said.

“Oh,” she said, somewhat taken aback. “I was just curious . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“I Don’t . . .” I started to repeat, then I smiled. “That is actually the title, it’s a book about depression.”

We both had a good laugh.

We can laugh about it now although that wasn’t always the case. I am on medication, reading books like the one with the title above, and actually, I DO want to talk about it. Or actually, talk more openly and honestly about it. As I look back over my journals, I realize that I have been talking about it. But I was talking mostly to myself and resisting what was staring me in the face.

I was depressed.

And wonder of wonders I am not alone. According to psychotherapist Terrence Real, the author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, depression among men is a silent epidemic that we don’t want to talk about or deal with because it isn’t “manly.” He differentiates between overt depression and covert depression, the different symptoms of both, and how both can destroy lives and relationships if not acknowledged and healed.

While I have found the book generally very helpful, there are a couple of things in particular that have jumped out at me so far. Early on, the author describes his learned understanding of men as “wounded wounders.” I resonate with this idea. In a sense I have been very adept at recognizing and dealing with my pain. My plethora of writings reflect this. However, it is only recently that I have begun to move from the narcissism that such inner work can lead to and into the more transformative power of letting my vulnerability out, through the same power of writing.

Real also describes the relationship between depression and violence, namely the violence men perpetrate on other men, especially as boys. I understand this as well. I was a smart and sensitive boy, gifted with near sightedness and thick glasses. My peers teased me mercilessly about my lack of manhood whatever that means. I was called Gay and Queer as if those terms make one any less of a man. At that time it still hurt deeply. One guy even told me something like I might get good grades but he got the girls. Typical misguided macho stuff. But I believed it. It was only later when I looked back from the relatively safe vantage point of adulthood that I realized that girls and women were attracted to me mainly because I was a man that they felt safe with and could trust.

There were worse things done to me which for now will stay between me and my Maker. Suffice it to say that I have received more trauma than I have given. But I am not innocent. I have seen the monster within. I wrestle with him daily while at the same time comforting the boy who still cowers in pain nearby. It is a struggle but I must do so if I am to survive and be healed.

It seems that the only way left open for men and boys to prove their manhood is through violence. But we are not made to be this way. Depression arises out of the helplessness we felt when we were victimized by other men. It also arises out of the guilt we feel from when we victimize(d) someone else, man or woman.

But there was One who did not walk this way. He took the pain perpetrated upon him by other men; their abuse, their torture, their injustice, their hate, and He did not respond in kind. Even more astounding, He transformed it into new life, a way of love that encompasses everyone and everything.

That, my friend, is HOPE. I have never found a Man tougher or more tender. It takes a real man to face his pain, not throw it back in someone’s face, and come out on the other side striving to be a better son, brother, father, husband, and friend.

So Man Up. I mean, really. You, your loved ones, and the world deserve it. It’s time we made this crazy orb a safe place for everyone, especially other men.

Man Up Campaign

Man Up Ministry

The Meaning of Man Up

Posted in Longreads & Essays, Stories

Campfire Tales – Figures On A Fence

I tried to get away.
I don’t know why, but there were strings around my heart and they were tugging at me.
“Run!” the strings were saying, “Run!”
The traffic light winked and joined in. “It’s none of your business.”
The buildings, the streets, the cars, they were all speaking.
“Run!” they said, “Save yourself.”
And I listened. My bus came and I ran to the door, trying desperately to escape the scene now hidden by the long steel frame. But the driver looking down on me slowly shook his head. Something in his eyes drove me back from the door. He knew. The bus moved on and the scene reappeared. A man had a woman bent over backwards on a chain-link fence and he was choking her. The pedestrians whispered at him to stop. A man lamely punched his horn.
The voices stopped and it was quiet. Nothing moved except the struggling bodies across the street. I could no longer feel the strings.
“Hey, You, get your damn hands off of her!” Someone shouted and it was very loud and close.
The man looked up and he looked at me. Then I trembled, for the shouter had been me.
The man slowly let the woman go and I watched her escape around the corner. He was still looking at me. I said a prayer. He was coming across the street. I waited for what seemed like an eternity and then he was here, staring at me.
“What were you doin’ all that hoopin’ and hollerin’ for, man?” he said, real quiet, like the eye of a hurricane.
I looked into that eye and slowly shook my head. And he kept walking.
“Asshole,” a man next to me growled at the choker and maybe to himself. When I turned to look, he pointed to his eyes.
“Watch your back,” he said. Then he left.
Alone once again, I stood and waited for the next bus. A winter wind swirled up and tugged at my hair. I shivered and pulled my jacket up closer around my neck.
I shivered again, but this time I knew that it wasn’t from the wind.

March 11, 1991

Based on a true occurrence during my first sojourn in Washington DC

Posted in Art & Photography, Prayers

The Atlas Of My Day – Diurnum 1

The travels of a soul for one day (Diurnum).

Map:

The Diurnum:

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman isn’t as pretty as we thought.
Julia’s head was placed on another woman’s better body,
decapitated like Medusa, her face and mind and window-eyes
held aloft and then thrown away.

The woman I worship on the cover of the magazine in the
cleavage corner of the grocery store is no woman at all.
She is a computer-generated image made perfect by binary code
with no flaws or imperfections to tempt me to be human and gentle,
or my sword to lie flaccid in my hands.

October 12, 1997

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Buzz

Conversations spin on in the night without me.
They rumble in rooms I know not how to enter
and gather like sticky strands high up in dusty corners
where the wall and ceiling meet.

Caught up in the buzz, I hover above,
listening but not hearing the murmuring sound,
a fly with one shriveled ear and no compound eyes
torn between the almost-but-not-quite-lucid-word and the know.

I tremble on the web but the spider doesn’t seek me.
She remains in her lair to watch and to wait,
refrains from the poison bite while I am left to
wander among the cocooned carcasses of friends
blind and alone.

Written November 23, 1996 while at a Men’s Retreat

Posted in Longreads & Essays

The Gospel of Eve: Confession of the White Man

In light of recent events, I felt that it was rather timely to republish the following as a confession and a call to all of us as men to forever exit the locker room.

I am the White Man;

I blamed Eve for my lust for power and ever since, for generations, I have been the serpent biting at her heels.

And because of this thrown out of the Garden,

and losing touch with God, my Father,

and my Mother, the Earth;

Banned from the Cradle of Civilization and so bent on destroying it and its people;

Rewriting history, lies, mythology, that I am the source of civilization.

I killed my brother and became the builder of cities, havens of murderers, slayers of people and the earth. I, created from clay and brown earth, which I now smother in concrete and steel, white monuments to my killing fields around the world.

Pale, sickly from years in dark caves, hiding from the light of the sun;

Born of a womyn yet taught to forget my mother, that life comes complete from man, yanked from her breast and taught to be hard and strong, to survive, separated from her and so from all womyn;

Beheader of Medusa and all womyn of strength, rapist, pillager;

Crusader; destroyer of all cultures and religions save my own, hating myself and so all other life, taking all with me in my self-destruction;

Creator of God, in my Image, white man, slavemaster;

Creator of Hell;

Wanderer of the earth, homeless, disconnected, unsettled, hopelessly searching for what I can find only in myself, eternally feeding on the flesh of the Earth and her people in vain attempts to satisfy my hunger and emptiness, afraid to see the welts I have put on myself and the people around me;

Killer of the Prophets; Isaiah, the Baptist, King, Romero, Womyn;

Killer of the Messiah, and his willingness to become a little Child, Servant, who sacrificed his power to destroy and so created a New Way, blood to end all bloodshed;

Consumer of his flesh and blood, his children, the peoples of the Earth, in his Name.

I am the White Man;

I have sinned.

And I ask you, Womyn, Man, of Color, what is the Way, the color of my Healing?

I am the White Man;

I cannot change the Color of my skin or my heritage.

But I have looked within and I have seen a heart of stone so I ask you, Womyn, Man of Color, can you help me crack it?

Written 9/22/91 and 3/8/92

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Litter

When I was a boy and our poodle Sugar was in heat,
all of the neighborhood dogs came around.
Dad kept the rifle loaded with rat shot.
Our days were filled with the howling of hounds.

But what were those canines supposed to do,
pulled by a force more powerful than a .22?

One year Sugar had her litter deep beneath the house.
Daddy cut a hole in the kitchen floor to get the bastards out.
He was a preacher with a buzz saw, the dogs were born again.
I held them close and wondered who their daddy was,
my hands warm and full of sin.

Are we men more than a little like these canines,
pulled by some pheromone-induced phantasm in our minds?

I think its time we pull the floor boards up,
lift our secrets out into the light
like Sugar’s newborn pups.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Leonids

When men with history
gather to watch fire fall from
the sky on the mountain above
their yearly communion, the earth
spins through darkness and
we collective passengers
revel in the turning.

This dust which explodes
against the firmament while
we breathe will not be returning.
Our lives flash for but a moment.
We stand together, the flame
on our faces, and give
witness to the burning.

11.20.01

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

When The Image Doesn’t Fit

image

So this is now the representation of men,
a white guy in suit and tie, briefcase in hand?

I will still go in,
to do what I need to do,
but neither I
nor most of the world
look like that man.