When I Feared Being A Bad Man

That night, all those years ago, I sat on the fantasy bed in the dream home, totally confused. I had no idea I was being called to an initiation.

However, something mysterious tugged at me, challenging me to move away from my union, and be prepared to eliminate everything as I understood it. But I was suspended.

Certainly, my life had become a nightmare, and yet, I was incapable of making modifications. The initiatory journey confronted me in a way I feared.

I was fearful of betraying my wife, being a poor guy and”not on her staff,” but it was getting impossible to deny that things had to change.

For years, I denied the call for change, the call to adventure, as mythologist Joseph Campbell called it. I danced with it, understood it had been in the room with me, and engaged it in a manner that hardly kept my head above water.

Lots of men and women deny the call by numbing themselves with alcohol, pot, porn, or work. In my case, I had spent years leaning in my pain, like a boxer seeking salvation with every blow absorbed.

For mepersonally, the numbing came in the form of masochism, a dance in chains, a leaning in my own distress, a martyrdom.  Look at me, I am meeting it head on to be a better person — when in truth I had been in denial of my psychological reality.  I was miserable and suffering to the point of fatigue and a nervous breakdown.

At the heart of darkness, I ran hard to be strong for my loved ones, working, cleaning, cooking, balancing the majority of the logistics for our son. When time allowed, late at night or early in the morning, I secluded myself into my guy cave in our cellar, a psychological-spiritual isolation room where I’d set up a personal space and altar.

A religious man on a religious mission, I journaled, processed, did shadow function, self-coached, and read Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir, decided to create meaning from my suffering. I engaged my distress, safe in procedure and reluctant to act.

If I’m strong enough, religious enough, soulful enough, I will get through this and be larger later, I told myself.  I will honor my family, my wife will get well, and we’ll live happily ever after, stronger in the end for it all.

It seemed noble and in accord with my epic male programming. Rescue the damsel in distress. Be strong for your loved ones. Be a man. In fact, I had been a naïve man hoping to be a superhero.

Spiritual athleticism, poet Robert Bly called it in the poetry anthology The Rag and Bone Shop of The Heart.  Attempting to be in the mountain top when you are at the base. A denial of fact.

My strategy was self-destructive. Since I didn’t have the guts to speak the truth of my emotions, I co-opted my wife’s illness for the sole gain I could imagine — my personal growth.

She became a job through which I could cure my heart wounds. In my religious practice, I sought to transform resentment into gratitude. I tried to make light from darkness, jewels from hardship.

And while I felt that the mild and grappled with my shadow, the stones did not materialize.  I had forgotten the most important thing — to listen to my own spirit.  In fear of neglecting my loved ones, I dismissed what my soul desired of meto leave my wife.

To avoid this hard truth, I used spirituality to skip anger and dread. I became a strong wimp, a spouse hater and a momma’s boy, needy for my wife’s love and signature.

I was deep in the mother wound, shifting the mother-pleasing behaviour of my childhood to my wife. Do not mad momma became synonymous with do not upset your spouse. I had been unconscious, uninitiated and lacking guides and mentors.

No wonder it got really bad before I replied my soul’s call.

Previously Released on StuartMotola.com


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