First off Im new to the site and have taken so much from it, great stuff! Ive always considered myself a manly man, I whip all my coworkers in arm wrestling, play sport go to the gym, shot guns, rode my motorcycle through Mexico. And Ive had many rewarding and exciting relationships over the years that have been more fun and "hot" then deeply meaningful (Im 36). But I find when I get in to a relationship that progresses to the next level I have a hard time retaining my manliness. When it gets tough I revert to the hurt little boy and lose all semblance of my convictions. I have a nine year old son who has pushed me to examine myself more then I could have ever imagined. Hes motivated me to examine the foundation and deep motivation of my manliness. And over the years Ive come to the conclusion that, through deep introspection this behavior is the product of a early trauma in my life. My father while a loving and kind man was a a grown child, a man that loved drinking, partying and running from responsibility. At the age of 6 he tore the family apart by removing me from my four older brothers and moving to Florida to avoid a debt. So through much hard work and self reflection I have figured out where these fears are rooted. In my currant relationship we've expressed our love and Ive plunged into the usual, fear, paranoia and sense that I need to get out and run. But I also know that she did not abandon me shes not the one that hurt me and I need to man up. So my question is dose anyone else have trouble with the man they want to be and the child from the past? Who has overcome similar situations? and what tools do you use to keep the man alive?
Have you ever read Iron John? It looks at many of the same issues.
For a more practical take there's also "Hold on to your NUTS" which is more self help but isn't my favourite book.
I have not! Thanks for the recommendations ill check them out.
Samuel got "HotyN" and what a help! I wish I had found this book years ago. I know its not for everyone but its really giving me a great starting point and perspective. A lot of stuff I wish my father had told me. I would be interested in hearing what you liked and not liked of these books.
We all carry the child we were with us and it's hard to overcome that child no matter what your age. I can honestly tell you that there is not a man alive or that has been alive that did not, at one point or another, become the child for one reason or another. When the going gets tough and you're under stress from financial, work, relationship or a combination of issues we tend to go on auto-pilot as far as our reactions and actions with and to the world. What or who is the autopilot? That inner child. We learn our behaviors from interaction at a very young age with others in our life and our parents are the primary interactors in a young child's life. So, from your father you learned to run when things get difficult rather than stand and deal. So by constant guard against the auto-pilot and engaging the wanted behavior you can navigate your relationship.
Sounds like I know what I'm talking about? Not really, I have issues with my auto-pilot as well.
We talk about issues like this a lot in ManKind Project. Drop by the AoM group "New Warriors" for more about what we do.
I can tell you my own experience. That hurt boy within has been abandoned before, expects it now, and as an adult I knew very well how to neglect him. (Technically, this means that I dind't have confidence in my willingness and ability to see to my own need for worth and love -- but the metaphor of the inner child is less clunky, so I'll keep using it.) Words matter: you're talking about abandoning a child! No wonder he's in a panic! And no wonder he's looking for someone else to be good parent: someone that isn't the man who abandoned him originally (father) and someone that isn't the one that keeps neglecting him now (you).
Recommended reading: Big You, Little You -- for how to dialog this on your own. If you're in a group w/ someone who can help: Embracing Our Selves: The Voice Dialogue Manual.
I could not stop that boy's stranglehold on my life until I could convince him that I would not ignore him, neglect him, and let him be hurt by others. It's ironic: the little boy is a symbol of weakness, but it's actually a very powerful part of the psyche that will not allow itself to be ignored.
However you come at the solution, I think it will be like this: you'll decide that you, the adult you, are in charge of taking care of that wounded part; you'll (possibly grudgingly at first) commit to doing that; and as you take that new internal stance, eventually that part will start to trust you. Then he won't need to shut down your attempts at love.
Of course, I don't know that'll happen in your life. But that's the way it happened in mine. (Says the man who married in his 40's.)
I had a similar thought, Will but you phrased it much better. Never abandon a hurt child even if it's your inner child. Care for him, help him heal, but don't let him control your life.
Thanks for the comment, Will. Sounds like you've described my inner child to a T! Even though it is a 'child', it still has incredibly powerful abilities to influence my relationships, my attitudes, and my life.
I echo Will here; in my experience with the Mankind Project I realized what I long suspected; the little boy I so tried to leave behind was still there.
My visits to this left-behind part of me have been draining and almost traumatic, and I shudder to realize I've been carrying around this baggage for so long.
I am now working to acknowledge this part of me, fear it less and even try to reconcile with those feelings, let them out. But it will be hard work.
I recommend you try the group too; the fact you feel that is what is holding you back is more than half the effort.
We are influenced by so many things but our minds must rule the day. You have legitimate feelings, seem to have rooted out their source, and can see their effect. Of those three, you can not stop feeling, you can not change the past, so all that is left is changing how they effect your behavior.
Be open with your partner, if you have that level of trust. I guarantee she has her own issues she is working on, even if she is not admitting to it. Let her know what's going on. Acknowledge to her and to yourself how you feel but don't let those feelings dictate your actions.
Practice and experience should make it easier over time.
Great stuff guys appreciate the time.
Thanks again guys this really helps. Subsequently we broke up last night, shes to busy and I felt I needed to stand my ground on what I needed in the relationship, clear communication, expectations. Thats a big step for me I either runaway out of fear, or let my relationships walk all over me. Not sure If I made the right move but on the bright side this will give me some time to work on myself.
Much good advice here. I know for myself, I finally realized that my parents were human and therefore flawed. They did the best they knew how to raise me. I had become an adult and realized any issues I had were now for me to work out. I'm not sure how old I was when I figured this out, but it was no earlier than my late twenties and no later than my early thirties.