We have just concluded session two of our Game Changers Men’s Program and one of the things that has really struck me so far is how difficult and challenging it is for men to admit what they are afraid of. This should not come as a real surprise to me as we men received the message very early on in our lives that our value as men is found in our strengths, our self sufficiency and our rugged individualism. It is important that we are seen as competent and responsible individuals who can be trusted to face up to all life’s challenges in courageous solitude. The problem with that expectation is that it can lead us to a very lonely place.
With that in mind, I want to share a challenge that I faced over the past couple of weeks that has caused me to question the way that I can retreat into a place of independence and isolation.
Almost three weekends ago, I became aware that I was passing a considerable amount of blood in my stool. In that classic male fashion, I wanted to believe that it was no big deal and that my stomach was upset by something and it would pass. Well, as the weekend went on, the problem actually got worse and I could not deny that I had a problem. Of course, I did not tell Christine about it until I became sufficiently freaked out and fearful enough to say something. She suggested that we head to emergency and find out what was going on. My response was to wait until Monday morning and head to the hospital then. After all, things may get better by then and then there wouldn’t be a need to go. After all, I didn’t want to be a burden to Christine or anyone else for that matter.
Well, we did end up going and spent the better part of the day getting x-rays and blood tests. The attending doctor was sufficiently concerned that he set up a colonoscopy and a stomach scope.
For the past two weeks I have been sitting on the uncomfortable thought that I could be a very sick man and the worst case scenario would have me battling cancer. So, where did I go with this news? My first inclination was to hold on to the news and battle all the questions, concerns and fears on my own with my faithful partner beside me for moral support. I did not want to concern my mom, siblings or my children with this potential bad news, so, initially I held on to it. Fortunately, I have a partner that is unwilling to let me get away with this kind of male bravado and began to push me to open up. Actually, on a couple of occasions she didn’t give me a choice as she shared it for me. Which, in hind sight I am grateful for.
I’m happy to report that those procedures took place yesterday and the news was good. Apparently, I stripped some of the lining in my stomach with overuse of Advil and Aleve, which caused the bleeding.
So; why am I sharing this story with you? Well, I am reminded through this story how easily it is for me and men in general to retreat into that independence and isolation and how it disconnects me from what I really want. And, what I really want is to feel connected, supported and loved when I am actually feeling fearful, weak and vulnerable.
I have to remember that real connection takes place at the point of my weakness, not my strength. It is only through my courage to share my fears that I connect with those of you who are also willing to share your fears.
This is what I am calling out the men to do in our Men’s Program and really all men everywhere.