Wounded Masculine: The Silent Pain Of Toxic Masculinity

The Messages of Patriarchy to Men

As I was scrolling through my phone looking for a photo, I came across an old video I had made for my parents’ birthday (dad turned 60, mom 50). It’s a beautiful compilation of picture collages accompanied by personally meaningful music. It had been five years since I last looked at it. I didn’t expect to find myself so deeply touched with the memories, nostalgia and the emotionality of it all.

I especially found myself activated in the core with water flowing through my eyes for the two men in my my family of origin. There were so many moments in the video where I sensed intensely the loss of light and Life because of the unintentional internalization of the narratives of toxic masculinity (aka patriarchy, as we know it).

  • You can never be good enough.
  • Nothing you do can ever be good enough.
  • You can never have enough.
  • Take.
  • Possess.
  • Buy the best money can buy.
  • Fuck the land.
  • Fuck everyone else.
  • Work the hardest possible.
  • Keep going until it hurts, and then push some more.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • Once you start, never look back.
  • Finish what you started No.Matter.What.
  • Persist, despite the pain.
  • Sacrifice yourself.
  • Definitely don’t cry.
  • Push yourself.
  • Push others.
  • Dismiss your feelings.
  • Shut down your emotions.
  • Only express anger.
  • Save face.
  • Never say sorry. Ever. EVER.
  • Deny your truth.
  • …especially to yourself.
  • Conform to the norm.
  • Keep up with the Joneses.
  • Give.
  • Do your best. Do. Do. Do
  • Do more.
  • Your value is measured by your wealth.
  • Your value is measured by your hard work.
  • Your value is measured by your status.
  • Show off.
  • Show them who’s better.
  • Never mind better, show them who’s best.
  • Be strong. Stronger still.
  • Men don’t _______.
  • Never show weakness…
  • …or they’ll eat you alive.
  • It’s a dog eat dog world.
  • An eye for an eye.
  • Don’t be a pussy.
  • Don’t throw like girl.
  • Don’t be pussy-whipped.
  • Don’t be a mommy’s boy.
  • Be a playboy.
  • Cheat.
  • Women like bad boys.
  • Nice guys finish last.
  • Fight.
  • Defend your honour.
  • Inflate your ego.
  • Have power over.
  • Dominate.
  • The world is your oyster…
  • … your dominion.

It must be so fucking exhausting having these types of messages run the show. So draining. So uninspiring.

Trying Hard to Escape Our Selves

“You can’t handle the truth!”

I’ve now long known something not everyone seems to pick up on: that external referencing is not our friend. Capitalist/industrialist/individualist culture is not our friend. Patriarchy is not our friend. Our own mind, when shaped by these influences, is not our friend.

When our mind is not our friend, we aim to escape, to forget in whatever way possible. The strategy of addiction seems to be most fitting in my family (and society in general). Addiction allows for that temporary-that-eventually-becomes-permanent type of escape. Life is passing by — who is noticing?

Addiction becomes a misguided effort to escape our Selves. Escape our minds. Escape our reality.

Run. The-Fuck. Away.

But, where to?

No matter where we go, our bodies come with us. The Signal from Self refuses to quiet itself. So the body manifests disease to get our attention. When we loose our appetite for Life and numb ourselves out to screens, smoke, isolation, our body manifests diabetes, depression, dementia. After all, it’s just easier when we forget, isn’t it?!

A lifetime spent persistently and consistently aiming to deny ourselves the Truth of our own experience. Can’t give ourselves permission to even look. Judgment. Blame. Disorientation. Denying the truth, especially to ourselves, seems like the path of least resistance.

I saw this recently and quite enjoyed it: DENIAL – Doesn’t Even Notice I Am Lying.

I can’t imagine the inner dialogue of Self-abuse. The violence against Self.

I Choose Activated Presence

I forgot what that was like. It’s been so long since I’ve sabotaged myself so harshly. It isn’t that I’m now all positive; it’s that I notice, whatever the inner dialogue might be. And know firmly: in this moment, I have a choice.

Though I am now activated, I allow the grief to move through me. I know I only grieve that which I deeply love. With my perceived loss, I also sense immense gain within mySelf. A reminder to choose gentleness, deep rootedness, the language of my body (intuition/Gaia) to guide my path. A reminder that I chose ALL of this, these godForces I get to proudly call my parents, this family, this paradigm, this collective, this land, this time, this space, this LIFE!

I have been in relentless pursuit of finding my sense of Self for over 15 years. I have moved through so much in the process, allowing the unfolding of the lived experiences that show me the totality of what it means to be human in this lifetime.

It hasn’t been all fun or expansive. I, too, had internalized the toxic messages of patriarchy as “real”. I relied so heavily on the masculine (spear) within me to carry me, to protect me, that I forgot all about the feminine (crucible). Except, of course, when it came to what I was taught was my power: my sexuality. I’ve already covered much of this in this blog post (a favourite of mine!).

Having already moved through that and noticing “this isn’t working for me”, my curiosity drove me to consider “what else is out there?”. I discovered a whole new way of being. One that allowed me to release, let go, integrate, digest, metabolize my past. I’ve grieved, cried, laughed, hurt. I’ve allowed myself the space that my history required to move. I’ve discovered that flow is the natural way of Life unfolding. I’ve given myself permission to just BE. To viscerally know I am whole, unique, essential. And it’s quite alright to move through the totality of experiences in life — none of it is bad or wrong. All of it is fucking brilliant! And in it’s brilliance, sometimes much of it hurts.

For me, that’s a reminder to pay attention. Go within. Explore my own internal landscape from a deep knowing that “I am safe“.

This is not a day long journey, nor is it a journey with a final destination. No one ever has it all figured out. No one ever knows the totality of what it means to be alive. No one is ever “complete”. This is a process on a continuum and it is never linear.

To be where I am, I’ve gifted myself with the permission to allow myself to see through different perceptual filters. The patriarchal narrative never worked for me; and yet I bought into it and felt stuck in my inability to “figure it out”. Something was wrong with me. So I tried to escape “me”. Now I know so much better! The process of continuing to clear the muck is essential, because tapping into the messages of the Signal from Self through the body has been critical to my healing, finding balance, self-evolution.

In my resting periods, I have come to accept being who and what I AM, with now increasingly less interference from any signal than that from my Signal from Self. I have committed to living an internally referenced life of authenticity and meaning. I have deep respect for what makes me “me”. And, I have deep respect for all those who came before me and showed me the way, in their own way.

Everything that has happened and will happen in my life, it’s all been a perfect invitation for me to wake up to my Self. To know the power of choice, in each unfolding moment. To love fiercely. To let go with grace. To sense eternal gratefulness. Unadulterated joy. Bottomless compassion. Passion. Ferocity. Gentleness. Intensity. Immensity. The paradoxes of the universe. The polarities that make us whole. The entirety of Life!

This today was yet another reminder that I am here to experience the totality of what it means to be present, to be awakened, to live FULLY ALIVE. In the midst of the chaos, I choose that.

And I choose to leave my son with a different mindset than that passed along to the collective today. I choose to allow him to simply, be himself and tell the truth.

I wrote this on my past post, and yet it feels fitting to insert it here as well, so here goes…

In a world so vehemently committed to some external duty (be it school, work, to-do list, or mowing the lawn on Saturday), I want my son to know what it’s like to be profoundly committed, first and foremost, to his internal landscape, to his perpetually evolving sense of Self.

In a world run by overwhelm and overdrive, I want him to intimately know what rest feels like. 

In a world where everyone walks around tolerating the intolerable, I want him to abide by his boundaries with deep self-respect and care.

In a world driven by blind compliance, I want him to simply be himself and listen to the truth of his own experience. 

In a world living in denial of its history with little hope for the future, I want my son to know that living in the moment, trusting the power of his Presence to guide his way is the single. most. powerful. way to live.

In a world overwhelmed by scarcity, I want him to trust in an abundant mindset; letting go of the double-binds of either-or. 

In a world where hoarding is considered healthy and a security cushion, I want my son to notice how abundance is found in flow

…In a world conditioned to “act NOW!” (fomo), I want my son to know the power of pause. This is one I’d like to expand on in this piece.

If I want my son to live this way, I must model this way of living to him with every change I get (if not me, then who?)

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