Today I felt the most shut down I’ve felt in months. I mean super shut down (due to a combination of factors and triggers). I’m mostly on the other side now, but I had to go work with myself in nature for a bit. Thank God I have incredible tools. *relief*. The feeling of being shut down is strangely comfortable even though it’s also miserable at the same time. Comfortable because I spent many, many years, very shut down and emotionally jammed up and I’m simply used to it. Miserable because of the impact on those I love the most—my wife, kids, and myself. The misery is palpable. When I used to be shut down, like I was today, I don’t even want to be inside my skin. My face is tight and hurts. My affect is flat, numb, non-respondent. My mind is muted and distant. It’s like a deadzone and I’m far away, hard to reach.
Back in the day, shut down was my go-to emotional state. And, since I had no idea how to really deal with myself, I would just go drink, get high, jerk off, or go do some extreme sport to take the edge off. I never dealt. My girlfriends at the time probably made it about them. I’m guessing I did too.
The saddest part of this is how many men are completely shut down, day after day after day. Like my former self, they have no tools. They have no support. Many don’t even know that it could be different. Their conditioning has imprisoned them. And, the ones that do want help, might not seek support because that’s fucking weak. Then, these angry, shut down men get blamed, shamed, and made wrong by many of us do-gooders. “Why are men today so….?” Or “Men are so ________.” I have to look at the ways I have colluded with the machine around how men are “made” (i.e. indoctrinated), into manhood. Where have I participated in stuffing them in an outdated gender box? People so want men to get their shit together and deal, but what if those same people trained them to be this way? What if we are the ones who sent them the mixed messages as a boy about how to be. So, next time you find yourself judging some shutdown jerk-male like I used to be (or was today), take a closer look. He’s probably in severe pain and has no idea how to get out. Blame and shame put him further inside with a shorter fuse. Like a scared little boy, the dude needs boundaries, compassion, understanding, and listening. Then perhaps, once he’s open and listening, he needs a loving kick in the ass from trusted sources.