• Men's Corner

What to Do if You Don't Feel like a Man: Part 3 — You Need to be Trained...You Need to 'Hatch'.


''A woman simply is, but a man must become.''


— Camille Paglia



''I mean, I didn’t even know how to replace my own car muffler.  When I came to own a house, I wasted money on plumbers to fix leaky faucets and electricians to repair broken light switches... Even if he could have afforded it, my father would never have ceded so much mastery of his world over to hired hands.''


Walt Herrington, The Everlasting Stream






In this modern world of ours, great as it might be in so many ways, most of us are conditioned to desire, work for, and even worship, these two things: comfort and control. We drive cars, eat food others have prepared for us and spend most of our time sheltered by the elements. We have a name and category for everything, even things we do not understand; we also, fearfully, make sure that we stay within the comfort zone of our own positions and knowledge.

But this is not how men are made.

Unlike women, men do not just develop naturally by being nurtured, loved, and encouraged — this is by all means needed, and is indeed vital, but is only half the battle: they must also be initiated into manhood.

Men, in an ideal-world scenario, must go through challenges (I have previously written about this here and here) but they must be led to facing those challenges by older, stronger, wiser men, who have themselves faced the same hardships and have overcome. Then and only then would a man grow up into the possession and full mastery of all that he could be and all that he could have. Indeed, the world today is full of undeveloped and half-developed men, who, having had only a few meagre ‘tools’ in the toolbelt that is their personality, go through life using only those few instruments, believing they could never even hope to fill the gaping holes in the belt with anything — and so never truly living...

The shy introvert, comforted and reassured by the world that they he is accepted and loved, stay safely in his cage, never really knowing that the hunger he feels for something more comes from the lion that sleeps within him...

The hard-charging, bold and ambitious ‘natural’ leader also never leaves his comfort zone of being who he's always been... He tramples over others to get to the top and chases things that he hopes would numb the pain, fill the emptiness inside, and finally stifle the cry of the lonely, abandoned little boy inside of him.

In my lifetime, prior to starting my own inner journey of initiation, and the work that I now do, I had never seen a man question his own personality, even less so being willing to go against it...

And this is where the tragedy is.


Because the initiation I describe (which, ideally, should really take place before the personality is fully formed, hardened into the adult ‘mask’ of the boy who still lives in every man) is meant to provide a man with a larger self: a self that has all capacities of manhood, without compromising any, in a stunningly individual way...


In other words, men must ‘hatch’, or they would forever remain locked behind the ‘shell’ of their natural personality, developed only by age. And indeed, if the ‘natural’ has any elements of greatness and glory, these are only the parts of the true, hidden personality, which have already been allowed to come out and be seen. This is why some families tend to produce boys with ‘more talent’ than average, at least in one area — while the rest of us watch helplessly on the sidelines, thinking that greatness is reserved only for those special few...


‘What to do if you are just average, then?’ — this is the question that I have been asked, too many times. And here is my reply:


There is no such thing as average.


'But,' you may argue, 'what if I am comfortable with being who I am — what if I’ve never had the capacities that I once (at least as a boy) wanted to have: athleticism, courage, academic skills, bravery, charm, and all the rest which might serve to make me a ‘well-rounded’ man? ''


Good question, I would say; and then I would add a few questions of my own:


How do you know that you did not have those abilities?  


How can you be sure that those things have not been ‘shut down’ and repressed in you, their development discouraged or even withheld from you, by the ‘Status Quo’ of your background — all of the ‘natural’ inclinations and the culture of your birth family, community and nation?


And if you cannot remember at least something of that — an incident when you expressed a desire to study and were called ‘stupid’, a failed attempt of playing sports resulting in lasting shame, or a brave step toward a woman with an open heart, thwarted by cold, paralysing rejection — then, at least try to answer this last question:


What makes you feel uncomfortable?


If you can answer this, with an honest, open heart, you might find that there are large areas within you — raw wounds of pain, shame or grief — that are still waiting to be reclaimed and made parts of the whole; and it is that whole — the man who is comfortable in his own body, who is free to express his emotions, who is brave enough to forget himself and serve others by loving them, challenging them, embracing them, confronting them, suffering and rejoicing with them — that we are seeking to re-build.


But honesty must come first. Pain must come first...


If you are willing to be honest with yourself, you might find that, behind your deepest fears — fear of being exposed, fear of intimacy and touch, fear of other men, to name a few I myself struggled with — lay not only your deepest wounds, but also those parts of you that you need most.

* * *


In my own life, the journey of initiation, of ‘hatching’ and becoming a man and coming into my own, has never stopped, and I think it never will. Although a lot less intensive than before, I still walk the path that stretches, challenges and enlarges my inner being. I see every challenging situation as an opportunity to grow and be strengthened (although, I must admit, my first reaction is still to avoid anything outside of comfort zone — this too will probably never change completely!) .

Not long ago, our kitchen sink got blocked. The first thing I did was, of course, to buy a drain-unblocking liquid and use it; this I did without success. The second, also as natural as the first (especially for those who, like myself, have never had the ‘natural’ inclination and ability — or the training and the desire, instilled in me by the example a father who modelled well-rounded manhood for me — to become ‘good around the house’ and deal with such things) was to call a plumber. Having just made up my mind to do that, I sensed a ‘check’ from within, and felt as though my actions were not rooted in mere re-action but also something else, something deeper...

Something which had been a part of me since my childhood.







''Even if he could have afforded it,

my father would never have ceded

so much mastery of his world

over to hired hands.''



— Walt Herrington






You see, for most of my life I knew that I was not great with ‘practical things’. True, I could deal with small matters, like changing a lightbulb or installing a new programme in the computer — but I always knew that if I even tried to ‘fiddle’ with big, dangerous issues like plumbing, electric installations, or engines, I would cause bigger problems and prove myself to be, once again, not only a disappointment, but also a wastrel — a good-for-nothing who only adds to the cost, only adds to the problem, instead of providing the solution.


In my early years I knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt; my father played the major role in this. In fact, I has been something like a minor family 'curse', of sorts...

 

But in the recent years, when so much of what I had once taken to be my true self had been challenged, exposed and gradually dismantled, I have come to doubt everything which I once took to be the truth about me.


This is especially true of the old, deep-seated beliefs about my abilities like the one I was faced with, as I stood before the blocked sink, helpless as a little child, and angry at myself for having to rely on others, again, to get me out of things which I would actually love to be able to handle myself...

In my mind, I renounced the lie that I had believed about the little boy within — that he is weak and incapable to handle tough situations; I turned away from that internally, by a pure act of the will, despite of my feelings, choosing to say 'no' to it. Then I decided to see what I could actually do, in a way that felt as if I had never believed the lie at the first place — as if I was still a boy, curious, brave, eager to enter the men’s world but totally untarnished by it...


I watched some videos to educate myself, and jumped into what proved to be a fierce battle for the restoration of my inner strength and determination...

Three days later, after having tried the strongest chemicals, the hardest and best tools and techniques (even the expertise of a local handyman who tried hard but couldn’t unblock the sink and himself gave up, saying that the blockage was probably too far inside the pipe, beyond the walls of the building), I was helpless, frustrated, and hurt. Not only did I waste much-needed time and efforts, but I would probably still need to spend money — and not a small amount, by the sound of it — to get a 'real' plumber to investigate the problem.


I felt tired, helpless, and utterly defeated. 

Before I continue with the story, let me tell you this: if you want to find healing for old wounds and change your inner world for the better, this place of defeat is actually a good place to be. The part of you that has been wounded, must be wounded again, so that the pain is felt: this is only so that you can finally embody the very part of you that has been hurt — a fragment of your own self, typically a younger ‘part’ of you that has remained stuck under pain and shame. And once you ‘become’ that part, once you finally start feeling like the weak, inadequate little boy you once felt yourself to be — only then can you re-take the journey that has been aborted, and try to take the ‘tests’ of life you once failed...


Only then will you be finally able to gain a sense of confidence, of mastery over your world.



But you must have a man by your side — not only one, though one is a start — who can guide, train and mentor you through this...otherwise you run the risk of repeating a cycle of failures and shame, and driving yourself even deeper into believing the lies about who you are and what you can do.


Now, let us go back to the story...

Having been made aware of the unseen battle that raged with me, I resolved not to give up. I said, out loud, that I would not be stopped by the all-too-familiar forces of resignation and quiet despair which have dogged my heels for most of my life. Those forces have been making me, time and time again, always 'cede mastery' and surrender my power to others, and as a result, I came to see myself simply as 'less' not only than other men, but also 'less'  than the happy, buoyant, able man I wanted to be...


Then I grit my teeth and continued trying various methods, tools and tricks, for hours on end, changing tactics, but refusing to give up.

This second ‘round’ that I embarked on, after the unsuccessful three-day initial campaign, felt quite different from the first: the first time I was simply trying to see if I could do it, half-expecting that I wouldn’t, and being ready to call the plumber at any moment; while the second time I had decided I would not stop, wasting no efforts considering any failure but instead throwing all of myself into what had suddenly become a battle to regain and re-learn to exercise a newfound part of my lost inner resolve...

It took four more days.

On the seventh day, what was just another determined thrust of the plunger broke through the blockage and the room was suddenly filled with the sound I had been hoping to hear for days — the noise of water rushing through the freshly unblocked drain.


I had done it!  


The family curse had been broken, and not only in theory, but in practice too! Once again, I was doing things I though I could never do...once again I had entered the deep waters of the territories which I though were 'not for me'...


And once again, I felt the rush of a new sense of confidence — the quiet security of being a man who could deal with crisis, who provided for his family and protected them from worries and unnecessary financial loss.


Yes, by accepting and overcoming that challenge while feeling young, weak, vulnerable, and totally out of my debt, I had taken one more step toward becoming that man. 


I had defeated the words and the actions of my father, and my own beliefs about myself. I had not only gotten the job done, and saved my family money, but had also persevered through my own inner battle, and have defeated the demons within my own soul...


The feeling was one of victory. And it had very little to do with being able to unblock a kitchen sink...

It had everything to do with being a man.

Not only a man, but a man who was a lot ‘larger’ than the one I generally saw when I looked in the mirror: a man who was far more resilient, skilled, intelligent, and tough, than the one I thought myself to be...

Today, I do not rush to meet every household challenge and unblock every drain — where old needs have been met and old wounds healed, there is nothing to prove; there common sense must prevail. But I have ventured forth more than once, and still do, when inner longings and inner limitations are revealed; and in most cases, I have emerged victorious and joyful, having gained a part of myself back, along with a new experience, new ability, and a new, broader sense of what being a whole man really is.

Friend, it is not about the blocked drain, the flat tire, the unaddressed marital issue, or the unfinished college degree: it is about what your failures there might be exposing in you, if you would let them...

But it is not the exposure of our weaknesses, that we are after, but about what those experiences were meant to release in you — the true man you are yet to become — and the training you might be needing in order to ‘hatch’ and become that man.


With much respect,

George Stoimenov


www.trainingformen.co.uk