Author Jay Cradeur shares the rare opportunity of working with men over the past 15 years and the powerful impact on relationships.
Many men, especially young men, look for a woman to fill a hole they feel inside. When we do not feel whole, we tend to look outside of ourselves for something, anything, to make us feel complete. This is a common first reaction on the path to personal growth and healing. This is also the source of most addictions. Alcohol and drugs and female companionship and sex can give us a wonderful feeling of euphoria that we latch onto and hold onto for dear life. The hole gets filled, albeit temporarily, and so we go back to the well time and time again, for that same feeling of peace, serenity, wholeness, and connection. Eventually the well runs dry!
From an early age, the American male is led to believe that a woman, or a relationship, or a marriage is a valid source of joy and satisfaction. As men, many of us not feeling whole and self-sustaining, we have looked to a woman to fill a void. Rather than feel the pain of being alone, or looking within to find our answers, our bliss, our contentment, we may grasp after a woman and suck all the life force out of her that we can. She will get tired of it and leave. Think about it, how many women have you “vampired”? If I am brutally honest with myself, I can count quite a few.
There is strong and popular misconception, that being in the company of a woman is the answer to a man’s woes. There is a seminal line in the movie Fight Club with Brad Pitt who plays a fascinating character named Tyler Durden. He says, “We are a generation of men raised by women, I wonder if a woman is really the answer we need.” That is a powerful question and one that bears looking into on a deep level. Why do we assume a woman and a relationship is the key to our happiness?
I remember being a young whippersnapper, attending Catholic school. I don’t actually remember if it was at school, from my parents, or it was just something in the cultural air, but the life path that was set up for me, and which I embraced with exuberant boyhood enthusiasm was go to school, get a degree, get a good job, get married, and have children. By the age of 25, I had done it all. I was married, living in the San Francisco bay area, one child born and another on the way, I had a good corporate job, and then the bubble burst. I thought to myself, “Is this all there is?” I felt bamboozled. It was this feeling of profound discontent that initiated my quest for something deeper.
“The power of quiet is great. It generates the same feelings in everything one encounters. It vibrates with the cosmic rhythm of oneness. It is everywhere, available to anyone at any time. It is us, the force within that makes us stable, trusting, and loving. It is contemplation contemplating us. Peace is letting go – returning to the silence that cannot enter the realm of words, because it is too pure to be contained in words. This why the tree, the stone, the river, and the mountain are quiet.” Malidoma Patrice Some, Of Water And Spirit.
The best company a man can keep is with himself, with his quiet knowing, with his inner peace, with his silent power. In order to become whole, a man must learn to become a father and a mother to himself. And of those, being a mother to himself is the most important. If you can provide yourself with the motherly nurturing that we all need from time to time, you are home free. Once you can be a loving mother to yourself, you don’t need a woman to hold your hand as you walk this path of life. You become independent and strong. Rather than having a relationship provide you with a mother who harps on you and praises you, you are open to the real joy and the real juice of a relationship of equals.
In the pursuit of personal growth and inner peace, the next best company a man can keep is with other men. The best men to keep company with are strong men, men who will tell you the truth and challenge you each step of the way. You want men who will tell you “That’s Bullshit!” It is hard to find good men, trustable men, men who you can count on to deliver the goods. I ask myself this question about other men: If we were at war together, and gun shots were flying over my head, would I trust this man to cover my back? If you can answer that question with a “Yes,” that man is a true gift in your life. In the company of men, we men can gather great wisdom about ourselves. By listening to the stories of other men, we hear stories about our own life. We are all the same, and we have the same “stuff” to deal with: women, work, mission, purpose, our dads, sex and desire. Together as men, we can arrive at core truths that will help to set us free. We won’t get that same experience from our women.
Most women I know don’t really like spending time with their man in conversation about their relationship. That is not being in relationship: rather it is talking about it. Frankly, women I have spoken to about this have reported they would rather we men sort out our issues on our own. It’s not their job. In the company of strong men, we can do that job together and meet women on the other side. Women would rather we come to them already full, deeply present and with a clear direction for our lives. That is living. And in that space that we as men can create, a woman is free to be her radiant self, a free flowing fountain of love. She doesn’t want to be bogged down. Who does? Life is short. She wants to feel your unwavering presence, and your humor, and your knowing touch. Period.
Many men, most men I know, don’t experience good close strong male camaraderie. It’s heartbreaking. Having discovered the power of a group of committed and focused men in my forties, I realize there is nothing like it. Men in a man’s life are a rare and precious gift. It is a simple and beautiful experience. I hear men talk about how they yearn for good male companionship, about how they feel alone and isolated. Many look at the state of the world, wars and fear of terrorism rampant, and instead of sharing heart felt feelings, they experience “guy chat” where the topics are often beer, boardrooms, and blowjobs.
Men are waking up to this truth more than ever. In the company of men, there is a comfort, an at-easeness, which men don’t feel around a woman. We can breathe, and really relax, and know that we are among our own. In the company of men, there is opportunity for powerful insight and growth. It is a gift of strength and independence. This is a gift you can share with everyone you meet. It is a gift you can take back to a woman, if she is ready for it. It is your choice.