It seems that the longer I am on this journey toward my authentic self and being the best man I can be the more in touch I become with the degree to which shame has informed my identity and the man I have been up until this point. No longer is it hidden by my arrogance, anger, or humor. It is there in my awareness and I get to sit in the discomfort of it. But with a solution. Finally.
The best definition of shame I have heard is this: Shame says you didn’t make a mistake; rather, you are a mistake. When the men I know are gut-wrenchingly honest with themselves, they begin to realize the degree to which shame has impacted their lives. Letting go of shame requires us to acknowledge all of the beliefs that have to do with feeling “less than” or feeling as though we don’t belong. Letting go of shame requires us to expose some of our deepest and most fundamental wounds―wounds that are so rooted that they have become part of our psyche. Luke talked about it this way: “I carried shameful and painful secrets about what I did and what happened to me in the past, and I wasn’t going to ever tell anyone about them. Revealing those secrets and that shame in recovery has had a powerful impact on my healing.”
The question deep inside so many men is: Am I man enough? How do I rectify all of the stuff happening to me internally with who I am supposed to project to the outside world? If so much of my internal life does not jibe with the Man Rules, what does that mean about me and my value as a man?
What is the solution? I heard very early in my own process of healing that there is no way out but through. We get through by sharing our truth, a little at a time, in safe places with others that we trust. We get through when we stop and stand still in the pain, letting go of our defenses and simply listening to the messages we tell ourselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We get through when we embrace vulnerability not as a last recourse or a tool we reluctantly pick up when we are in pain or feel backed into a corner but rather when we see it as a way of being in our relationships when it will foster connection, love, and compassion. You want to take the warrior’s journey? Try being vulnerable at least once every day in a situation where you don’t want to be. For one week. Try it and see what happens. You will never be the same man again. And that may very well be a very good thing.