“Now I know I've got a heart because it is breaking.
- Tin Man”
After a Summer hiatus my men's group started up again yesterday. I was looking forward to it, as it would be a nice bookend at season's end, but when I got there it felt so wrong.
Guys who I had not seen in three months, even though we've been through a year of meetings together, my joy at seeing them felt shallow.
As the meeting began I suddenly felt like I was back at square one, and instead of being comfortable I felt a strong sense of apartness, awkwardness, not belonging.
I shared some of these thoughts when it was my turn. I mentioned I had a very challenging Summer, and really could have used the support of the group, but had to get by as I usually do, alone, and with the help of a lady friend or two. No men except some online support, which was way better than nothing, but it's not the same.
While I expressed sadness over that a member asked if he could comment. He said instead of sadness my body language was actually quite defensive and very tense. My head said sadness, my body said anger, rage.
As the meeting went on the sense of apartness deepened; I found myself not connecting, not even laughing at jokes as the male humor behind them escaped me, or if I did it was an empty, fake laugh.
The meeting entered the work session, and thankfully someone went instead of me. I watched the man doing the work release a host of horrible emotions and thoughts over family troubles he was having, heart wrenching. The words of the tin man came to me; how double-edged a heart is because it can be broken. I sat in the background feeling helpless as tears of empathy ran down my face. Watching a grown man break down; it's truly awful.
Why am I here?
came to me. This was no fun. I could be home with my daughters watching TV, a drink or two in me by now, then the wonderful forgetfulness of sleep.
The next day I sat in bed thinking about whether I should drop out or not. It would be so easy to stop going and pick up the mantle of victim.
Going back will not be easy for I know now that I still have so much work to do, one of them is to get to the bottom of why I feel so apart as a man among men.
It's a fact I can easily hide with a busy schedule, accomplishments, but at the end of the day I look in the mirror and that scared, hurt lonely little boy is still staring back through my eyes.
I've decided to remain in the group. Doing so will mean opening up to other men, real, in the flesh, more than I ever have, and that is scary for someone who has cultivated a very convincing shell of good-natured ennui hiding a broken interior.