The Impotent Hero ~ Healing the Wounded Masculine

Allan’s chapter from the Anthology “The Heart of Healing”

This article was originally published in “The Heart of Healing—Inspired Ideas, Wisdom and Comfort from Today’s Leading Voices.” Elite Books, Author’s Publishing Cooperative, Santa Rosa, CA, 95403. © Allan Hardman, 2005

Romantic relationship has been both a blessing and nightmare for many people in this new millennium. In the past, the rules of relationship were relatively structured and well enforced by families and cultures. Many relationships were based on the need for security and financial well-being in an uncertain world. Often, mates were chosen based on others’ expectations, class, race, or religious backgrounds.

Now, with financial independence being available to most, and ethic and cultural distinctions blurring, men and women are left more to their own discernment and integrity for choosing mates and establishing the rules and expectations of relationship. Along with this freedom has come increasing confusion and uncertainty in relationships of romance and marriage.

One consistent factor that I have observed in my work with singles and couples is their caution or outright fear of each other. They are not able to be present in their relationships with the truth of who they are and what they are feeling. I invite you to consider the following suggestions about what causes much of this difficulty.

I am writing this as a man, using heterosexual relationships as the model. Please understand that the dynamics I describe are not limited to those relationships. Wherever I have written “man” or “woman,” please substitute “masculine” or “feminine” if it better serves your understanding. Know that the masculine and feminine can be dominant in any gender and interact in any relationship form. It is my hope that these observations will serve you, no matter what form of relationship you choose.

Who taught you what it means to be a Man?
After asking this question of countless men, I have learned that the answer is often not what one might expect. The first responses are usually “I learned to be a man from my Dad,” or “my Uncle” or a respected mentor. Then a deeper truth emerges: “My dad wasn’t around much,” or “Dad left when I was six,” or “My dad was an alcoholic.” With deeper exploration, most men are surprised to discover that it was not their fathers who taught them what it means to be a man, but their mothers. Continue reading The Impotent Hero ~ Healing the Wounded Masculine

Taking On the Weight of the Lovers Wounds

We have all been wounded in childhood to one degree or another. I am discovering more about the idea that birth trauma can emotionally shape us, as well as the events that take place during infancy and pre-verbal communication. It is important to know and understand the wounds of our own inner child so that we can take care of that precious being within. However we also need to be aware where we might be taking on the wounds of a lover’s disowned inner child.

If the lover hasn’t done a significant amount of introspection he, or she is likely to be carrying a hefty emotional load. Especially if that person is out of touch with his or her emotions. Anger, for example is an emotion that if disowned will likely surface as passive aggressive behavior. When someone is passive aggressive that person will harbor resentment towards the primary person in his or her life because of an inability to express that anger in a healthy way. That resentment is felt by you and can be very confusing. Especially if it seemed that person really loved you, cared about you and admired you. This is where you might find yourself experiencing idealization and devaluation from your lover. One minute he is telling you that you are the greatest and the next minute he is pulling you into a dark place that you didn’t even know existed. “Is that how you feel about me, really? Wow! I had no idea!”

The danger of this kind of relationship is eventually the final devaluation will likely be visited upon you. This is the purging of the lovers disowned self, the wounds of his inner child. These wounds are projected upon you, you are bad, that person cuts you off and doesn’t allow any avenue to communicate what is going on. It is a highly traumatic state because you have gone from believing you were the love of his/her life to feeling like you never existed to that person. If you carry that projection in any way you may end up feeling that you don’t exist. Life may seem very surreal and you may experience an emotional crash.

Bouncing back from such a devaluation is a long road but there are some powerful things you can do to make the road a little smoother. One is to remember all the beautiful things that person said about you. This is the truth. The ugliness is not you. It is the rejection of that person’s inner child and its accompanying pain. That inner child was simply projected upon you. You may be the one crying the tears of that little child’s pain because your lover doesn’t even acknowledge there is an inner child. Having a frightened, wounded little boy or girl within doesn’t fit up to the image of the self as strong and powerful. And so when this disowned child is cast upon you, and you unconsciously take it on, you end up feeling weak and insecure while he or she projects an image of strength and self assurance.

To complicate matters if you projected your Father/Mother upon your lover, which most of us do to some degree, and you have an abandonment wound from feeling that Mommy or Daddy left you, this wound will be triggered at the abandonment by the lover. That childhood wound may be as small as your parents taking a two week vacation when you were a baby and you felt abandoned by them. Or it could be death or divorce at a young age. Whatever your personal case, your own abandonment issues will be compounded by taking on the wounds of the lover’s disowned self. If you interpreted the early childhood abandonment as “I did something wrong” and you get a big dose of “you are wrong” by the abandoning lover, you may sink into a pretty dark place, believing there is something seriously wrong with you.

As an infant we are dependent on the primary person in our lives and when that person is gone we can feel as if we need them back or we will die. That is actually a reality as an infant. An abandoned infant if left alone without love or caring will die. We can access that kind of panic as an adult and it can feel like sheer terror. We may feel that if we don’t have that primary person in our lives back, we will die.

Our adult self knows this is ridiculous. Our adult self may feel like the lover is a mean, cruel, jerk that doesn’t deserve a moment more of our time, but our inner child is desperate to get that primary person back into our lives. And so begins the obsession. That obsession carries a message “I need you for my survival!” That is pretty intense.

There are many layers going on here. We have a lot of unconscious childhood emotions surfacing that carry messages like “I’m wrong, I’m bad, I don’t deserve love, I don’t deserve to be here, I am unlovable.” Of course none of this is true, but our pre-verbal consciousness, which is emotionally driven, interprets its world by simple emotional messages. Shame is born from the emotional message “I am bad,” or “I am wrong.” The unconscious lover who projects his disowned shame upon you will reinforce your own feeling that “I am bad, I am wrong.”

Our obsessive nature will keep us analyzing the events of the relationship trying to figure out “where did I go wrong? What did I do wrong?” It is helpful to have your inner parent come forth and tell that little child within “you are O.K. . You didn’t do anything wrong. You are good. You are loved. You are loveable. “

The best thing you can do in a situation like this is stop owning his/her stuff. It’s not yours. Get rid of it! Take out the trash. Stop building your reality on that serious misconception. Remember who you were in the beginning. Remember how your beauty, your strength and your intelligence attracted that person into your life. You are an attractive force. This is not gone for you. It is merely buried under layers of toxic emotion. Dig yourself out. Instead of idealizing the passive/aggressive abuser and longing for his/her return, allow yourself to get angry and start recognizing the stuff that has been dumped onto you so that you can give it back. This is all an invisible or psychic process. No need to contact that person. You might start telling yourself things like “that person really is a jerk and what he did was not at all nice. I don’t care if he pretends to be nice and everybody else bought his story, I know he isn’t nice. I believe the appearance all along and ignored the red flags and the gut feelings that something wasn’t right, but now I am seeing the truth.”

There is a lot of punishment dished out in passive/aggressive rebellion. You are being punished for the way he or she feels inside and that hurts. Especially if the abandoning lover has cut off communication with you. He or she does this so you can’t defend yourself or throw it back on that person. “I’m going to dump this crap on you and disappear so that you can’t give it back to me. If I listen to what you have to say I might have to take ownership for some of this and I can’t do that. It would be too painful!”

The discarding is how the lover reinforces his own concept of himself as good. It really doesn’t have anything to do with you. Yes, you weren’t perfect. Nobody is and nobody will be. So don’t start dwelling on your perceived imperfections. Relationships are about acceptance and working with the issues. If a lover is far too unconscious to acknowledge there are issues to begin with, you won’t have much success working through them and there will never be any true resolution to the issues that surface in the relationship. The thing is, issues will always surface, in any relationship. Either you deal with them or the relationship is guaranteed to either fail or become entirely superficial.

Don’t feel guilty for feeling Mr. or Ms. Wonderful isn’t so wonderful. Let yourself go to that place. Put yourself back up on that pedestal he or she has ripped you off of or at the very least pull yourself back up to a place of inner power and recognize your own beauty and deservingness. “I deserve love and that person couldn’t give it to me, so rather than trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip, I’m going to find someone who is truly capable of being with me.“

Yes it is important to love ourselves first, however; Eckhart Tolle says rather than focus on loving yourself try just being yourself. I like that. Because we often try to be something we are not in order to please others and once we release this burden we can relax into ourselves and just be who we are. What prevents us from relaxing into our true nature is the fear that who we are isn’t good enough. So the work is to accept who you are is good enough. You are great!

The ex-lover still has his disowned childhood wounds. He may have projected them upon you, but they are still there, under the surface of his/her consciousness, waiting for the right opportunity to come out again. And when they do you will be long gone. Think of it this way. You don’t have to play this role anymore. You don’t have to be the one to shoulder the burden anymore. You are free! You are free to be your beautiful, loving, kind, caring, generous self! Own it! Own your own dark side, your light, your own inner child, your wounds, your innocence, your fear, and embrace it all. It is all what makes you beautiful. It isn’t in the owning of who we are, in its entirety that is a problem. It is when we disown it and project it onto others that issues become unsolvable.

Accept the strong possibility that your lover may be much more wounded than you are. His wounds may be much deeper and much more unconscious than you had realized. If this is where that person is, then what chance do you have to get through? The energy that has gone into erecting those stone walls is strong. What makes you believe you can break those walls down? Why would you make this your mission? Is it because you need that person to be available to you? Why not try being available to yourself? You are an adult now. You can meet your own needs. You can find what you need out there in the world. Believe that you can. Love is not lost to you. It is waiting for you to recognize it.

Feeling in a Repressed Society

Last week I briefly touched upon the topic of feelings, encouraging you all to allow your feelings to be felt and expressed. I received a letter from someone who was confused about the concept of expressing feelings in a society where feelings and emotions are considered taboo or socially unacceptable.

My brief response was that our society is highly dysfunctional and if we make our choices based on what is socially acceptable we are only supporting that dysfunction. But I want to talk about this topic in a little more detail, because I feel it is extremely important in our awakening world.

Awakening is the key here. Society has been emotionally repressed. We have been trained to stuff those feelings, not talk about how we feel, don’t cry or I’ll give you something to cry about. But when energy is suppressed for long enough it begins to surface in very toxic ways. Take a look at our world today. The repressed emotion is surfacing as illness, disease, greed, war, famine, poverty, abuse, substance abuse, obesity, mental illness and depression, to name a few. All those unfelt emotions are finding an outlet somehow. So the challenge is whether or not you will allow those feelings to be recognized, honored and expressed or if you will continue to repress them and have them surface in unconscious, unhealthy and toxic forms.

I had a woman write to me who said she had repressed her emotions in her toxic relationship and now that it is over they are all surfacing. This is common for most of us who repress in order to stay in that relationship. We put a veil of slumber over the truth and go unconscious in that relationship. This is how we are able to survive with a toxic or narcissistic partner. We sleep through the relationship, so to speak. We don’t really allow ourselves to fully feel and express our anger, dissatisfaction, pain, fear, and feelings of injustice. We find ways of convincing ourselves that everything is O.K. But they really aren’t O.K. When that relationship ends all of those buried emotions begin to come to the surface to be processed. It can be really overwhelming. Especially if you are an empath and have taken on the repressed feelings of a non-empathetic partner.

In the book “What You Can Feel You Can Heal” by John Gray he talks about something called “The See-Saw Effect.” When we push down a feeling it comes up in our partner. I believe this happens frequently with narcissists and other non-empathetic, emotionally repressed individuals. These people are so “out of touch” with their feelings that they stuff them down into their unconscious and what is stuffed down is felt by the empathic one in the relationship. If the empathic person is also somewhat unconscious she may not be able to decipher what is her emotions and what is the repressed emotions of her partner and so she may become somewhat of an emotional basket case. Since her partner fears emotional expression he will judge her mercilessly for her emotional nature. The emotionally expressive member of the partnership may start to feel crazy because she can’t make sense of all that emotional pain being stirred up. She also can’t understand how her partner can be so calm, cool and collected while she is crawling out of her skin, ready to burst with a truck load of toxic emotion.

In the case of an emotionally repressed partner, he is fully vested in his repression. It is just as easy for him to blame his partner for her emotional outbursts or expressiveness and label her as crazy, a nut case, bi-polar or an emotional basketcase and walk away from the relationship, seemingly unscathed leaving his partner to clean up the toxic waste spilled into her ocean.

The importance of feeling our feelings and understanding where they come from can be a matter of life or death for many. Especially if you are one of those people left to deal with the clean- up of the toxic waste overload. It is important as you are sifting through all the emotions coming to the surface that you sort what is genuinely yours and what doesn’t belong to you. If you’ve been in a toxic or narcissistic relationship, some of it will be yours, but the lions share probably is not. Remember you’ve been dealing with someone who is not authentic with his feelings. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have feelings. It means he is so “out of touch” with his feelings that he doesn’t realize he has them. He really does believe they are all yours. There is nothing you can do to convince a narcissist that you have been carrying the emotional load for the relationship. He won’t own any of it. That is why he is a narcissist. That is why he has no genuine empathy. He is severely repressed and this is his coping mechanism.

So now that you realize there is nothing you can do to get the emotionally repressed person in your life to take responsibility for what is his or hers, you can focus on sorting through and clearing out the emotional baggage you’ve been left with.

On an energetic level, you don’t have to carry or take responsibility for what is not yours. You can simply release it. Easier said than done, I know. Because you’ve likely gone through such conditioning to believe you were the one with all the feelings and he didn’t have any.

In my family of origin I was the emotional one. I was the empath. I was the one who felt what the family unit didn’t feel or express. So I internalized all the repressed emotions for the family which resulted in a severe eating disorder. It wasn’t until I could completely disconnect from my family that I could begin to heal and let go of what wasn’t mine to carry. But I was also conditioned to be the “feeler” for any family unit I re-created. I drew people into my life who were emotionally shallow or repressed because that was familiar to me. It was the role I had grown up with.

We have to learn to be emotionally expressive rather than repressive. It is a learned skill. Expressing oneself and his/her feelings doesn’t need to be a volatile process. Expressing ones anger doesn’t mean to yell and scream at someone. You don’t want to let your anger get to that point. If you feel like yelling and screaming do it in an environment that is safe, like driving in your car or taking a plastic bat to your bed. As you get more in touch with your feelings and you recognize your anger you can calmly state that you feel very angry about this without any hostility. If you feel an emotional build up, those emotions can be released by crying. That is why we cry. Because it is the best way to release pent up emotion. There is nothing weak about crying. It actually takes strength to allow oneself to cry or to really feel their feelings and own them.

The weak members of society are those who are unconscious. Unconsciousness is a weakness. It takes great strength to awaken and feel. To genuinely be connected into life, to feel your feelings and express all of your feelings in a healthy manner is to truly be alive. Repressed people are like the walking dead. They are very robotic and emotionally numb. They can’t feel genuine joy or elation either. They may act happy or put on a happy face, but they are lacking in authenticity. On a feeling level that pretend joy is not really there. It can’t be. Because we don’t get to be selective about what feelings and emotions we want to allow. When we repress pain, we repress our joy as well. These feelings are opposite ends of the same spectrum. The more we get in touch with and express our painful emotions the more we will also feel our joyful ones. So there is a payoff to feeling your pain. And once you truly allow yourself to feel the emotions that are wanting to surface they really will be healed.

It is so important to allow what wants to surface to be felt and expressed. That expression might be shedding tears, getting angry in a safe environment, allowing yourself to feel that injustice, that jealousy, and that fear without judgment. When you can be honest with yourself about what you are feeling you can be with those feelings and allow them to be released. This is part of the process of awakening to your true, authentic self. Those who choose to remain asleep will suffer the consequences of their unconsciousness. We create our reality not from conscious intent as much as we do from unconsciousness. Awakening is the process of delving into the unconscious, understanding our shadow, bringing what is in the dark out into the light and becoming aware of our inner demons. When we are aware of our inner demons they are no longer demons. They become enlightened (brought into the light of awareness.)

As you become a truly authentic, feeling, expressive individual you will need to be very conscious about the types of energies you are attracting into your reality. It is much more difficult for women to find an emotionally aware man as it is for a man to find an emotionally aware women, because it has been more “socially acceptable” for women to express their feelings. Men are groomed more to be emotionally distant. With this being said, women also make excuses for men who are emotionally distant, telling themselves that their emotionally distant nature has to do with their sex. But this is the lie women tell themselves that gets them in trouble. Men are waking up too. Men are getting in touch with their emotional, feminine natures too. Not all men are, but there are more and more on this path and these are the men we need to align with. If a man or woman is shut down emotionally and can’t communicate honestly about how he or she is feeling in a way that is responsible and non-blaming then he/she needs to be confronted about his/her behavior. If he/she can’t hear you or respond in a respectful manner than there is no genuine basis for a relationship. If we could get this early on, we would save ourselves a lot of grief.

As we set our sails on the course for awakening we must embrace and accept our feelings and emotions without judgment. They are coming up to be healed. We must allow this process in order to step fully into life in a healthy, fully authentic way. We must choose environments which support our authenticity. And avoid environments that are repressed, cold, heartless and uncaring. In an awakening society we must be part of the solution not part of the problem. We shouldn’t waste our energy trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Find the places where you genuinely fit and are accepted as who you really are. This is where you belong.