Self expression vs. The Fear

September 16, 2011

Goddamn I really lost it last night.

I mean lookie: The world is chock full of exploitation, suffering, anger and dehumanization.

For example — and this doesn’t negate any one else’s suffering, experience or convictions in any way, got it? — Western men are being quietly bled to death in numerous draconian ways.  Quiet Desperation is back with a vengeance (as if it ever left, really).  Look at rates of marriage, innovation, college graduation, divorce, fatherlessness, incarceration, suicide, addiction, you name it: Men Are Giving Up, and sadly, as of this moment anyway, I’ve allowed myself to drift into that demographic myself.  It ain’t pretty, and I hereby submit to any and all negative personal and professional consequences of admitting as much publicly.

See if you can wade into the following information without collapsing into a depressed heap of helplessness, if only for a while:

That’ll get you started.   If you can actually consider what these publications have to say without barfing them back out and running for the delusional hills, your world will never be the same.

Now.

There’s information, and then there’s how we respond to information.  The following ideas trickled into my head as I tossed and turned awake at 4am last night, cold and scared of life:

There’s attractive honesty and repugnant honesty.

There’s a kind of honesty/authenticity that will bring allies into your life, and there’s another kind that gets you naturally shunned.  At first I didn’t see these two options as both existing simultaneously, and in my lower moments I still don’t, but today they both exist for me as a vague bi-faceted truth.

My clearest understanding so far is that Repugnant Honesty is best characterized by being angry at the world, and trying to express your anger by bitching about how awful it is.  “If I can only make you understand how awful X, Y and Z are, then you’ll have sympathy for me.”  Sorta like that.

Meanwhile, Attractive Honesty has something to do with “owning” one’s dissatisfaction and expressing his own experience of it.  Sssssssomething like that.

I mean, consider: Ghandi and Martin Luther King led huge (and successful, no less!) marches and movements.  Why?  Because they were fat, dumb and happy?  Nnnnno.  But they somehow expressed their dissatisfaction in an Attractively Honest way that won people over.

I dare posit that for most people, this does not come naturally.

Therefore, honesty requires skill.

The skill of judo-ing one’s own reactive (if “justified”) anger and frustration, and not making it only about Everyone Else.  No one likes a male victim unless he’s of the disciplined minority who can keep his shit together and tell his story the Right Way.

It’s a riddle, though.   Often, when people are told to “own your feelings”, what the teller really means by this is to “take responsibility for squashing yourself and acting nice Or Else”.  It’s an emasculating power play in that context, but (I insist that) alternate well-meaning contexts and intentions exist as well.

Something like that.  More later.   My thankful appreciation as ever.

Afterward:

As for the blow-by-blow, the two key thoughts/reminders running through my head as I calmed down last night were:

  1. That I have needs, like social interaction, friendship, touch, care and even sex, and when those needs go neglected for too long it’s perfectly natural to turn into a fuckup of some kind.
  2. How the Christians insist that there is a Real God, who knows and loves everyone.  He might not approve, but He is present and concerned and understanding with every person at all times.  I can’t say that it’s true, but I can tell you right now that it’s a helpful model to dwell on.
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One Response to “Self expression vs. The Fear”

  1. ram Says:

    This is a profound post, and relevant to me.

    I don’t know quite what it was you were fearing (and I’m well familiar with most of your references), but I have been known to indulge “repugnant honesty,” maddened by others’ indifference or cluelessness about serious things.

    The results are rather unrewarding, I’m noticing.


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