In 999 Words: Rejection in a time of trauma

There’s something about trauma that brings you out of your shell. You’re so eager to escape the terror you are experiencing that you discover a newfound bluntness. It’s a technique that delivers distraction, a temporary reprieve from inner anguish.

Her name was Gabby. She was, until the fall of 2011, my best friend. We showed each other love through thick and thin, and because of what seemed like terrible misfortune on her part, there was plenty of thin.

When Gabby’s mental disorder finally revealed itself, I was left holding the bag on brutal lies she had told and which I had repeated. It’s one thing to read about personality disorders; it’s another to actually experience one in the flesh. When it befalls someone you love, it’s terrifying. You realize that you will never, can never, believe anything he or she tells you. The person you thought you knew doesn’t exist; their replacement seems evil and sadistic.

After this became true of Gabby, the first thing I did was distance myself. The second was to get tested for STDs, as we had been intimate on numerous occasions. Since I no longer knew who Gabby was, I could not rule out the possibility that she had inadvertently, or even purposely, given me an STD. My mind went right to the scariest one of all, HIV.

It took nine days for the blood test to come back. Nine days of pondering death, of asking God for a second chance, of feeling horror I had never known. HIV is not a life sentence, but when you think there’s a chance you could have it, it sure feels like.

The test confirmed I did not have HIV, yet I was still numb and panicky. I now knew that I was vulnerable, that death wasn’t just a theoretical possibility. I wasn’t sure if I could ever revert back to my old, comfortable naïveté. I began fearing things I had never feared before, such as driving a car or swatting a bloody mosquito (What if that blood carried HIV?). And somewhere underneath it all I was mourning the loss of a dear friend.

It was in this state that I turned to my parents. I was 30 then, and they remained the primary caregivers in my life. I was never one to drink or smoke pot, though during this time I was at a buddy’s house party where everyone except me was high on weed. I was in such a heightened, unyielding state of alarm that I actually considered crossing my own uncrossable line and toking up.

I didn’t smoke the pot, but I did make the mistake of telling my parents that I had contemplated it. That’s the coming out of my shell I mentioned earlier. I was trying to convey to them how fucked up I was. Considering my clean-cut nature, my words must have shocked them.

A few days later, I was at that same buddy’s house when my Mom texted me: “You better not be doing drugs. We don’t want to disown you.” I should have known. That’s the judgmental, love-taketh-awayeth Mom I knew. As absurd as it sounds for a mother to threaten to “disown” a 30-year-old man for inhaling plant smoke in the year 2011, it was actually very hurtful. And part of a long pattern.

Growing up, it never really felt like I could do right by Mom. I’d shyly interact with relatives in what seemed like an acceptable way to me, only to be told that I wasn’t doing it right. And she was so often angry. I remember being 8 or 9 and bringing a friend over to the house, sensing that when we walked through the door my Mom would needlessly flip out. She did. Some of her favorite lines (always yelled) were, “I don’t like you right now!” or just calling me a “cunt.”

Meanwhile, my father was a “cool dad,” playing catch and taking me out for ice cream. But like Mom he was terrible at handling situations in which my behavior differed from his expectations. When I got a bit older and started misbehaving in school, he’d tell me that I was “incompetent” and “ugly.” He mocked me for having few friends. Not every day, or even every week, and probably with out malicious intent. But still.

While Dad did his best to help me reintegrate into life after Gabby and my HIV scare, he also found time to judge me for apparently being promiscuous. And he could not handle any concerns I raised that went against his own narrow moral compass. I regret talking to him about the whole traumatic episode, because his judgement only made me hurt more.

Lately I have been thinking about how I would treat my child if I became a father. Often the answer is “the opposite of how I was treated.” I’d let that little boy introduce himself to family members however he wanted to. I wouldn’t try to humiliate the shyness out of him. I wouldn’t ask him questions such as “Do you love your father?” Those aren’t really questions, but rather demands that a child provide a statement that will make adults feel validated. I would value that child’s individuality.

And if my grown son had just gone through an event in which he feared for his own life and lost a close friend? I picture myself showering that man with unconditional love.

I know my parents did the best they could in every situation in my life. And I understand how they let their own petty frustrations and repressed emotions get in the way of good parenting. That’s why this morning I quietly took time to forgive Mom and Dad for everything I’ve written about, and more, in my own mind. I did this because I love them and I love myself.

I also know this forgiveness won’t be a one-off, but a continual choice. That’s what forgiveness is, and that’s what love is.

Accepting What Is

Accepting What IsEach morning I pull a couple of Oracle Cards and post one to Instagram and Facebook. Yesterday morning it was, Accepting What Is, and it connected with me even more than usual. My family is dealing with a number of health issues and I’ve been witnessing acceptance in others and in myself on a daily basis.

My father has been on a slow mental and physical decline for a decade or so. His dementia and physical degradation have picked up speed in the past couple weeks which coincides with his wife going in and out of the hospital twice this month dealing with her own health and pain issues. They have both had to accept needing help, something they’ve resisted for a long time. Fortunately, they have support via insurance, their own finances, and nearby friends and family as well.

Two days ago my wife and I accompanied my dad to visit his wife in the hospital. He needs a wheelchair to get around the hospital these days and he nearly fell every time he tried to get in or out of it as well as in or out of the car. I had to help him go to the bathroom, a first for us both, and it was all I could do to be present and truly helpful and not just mentally checkout and disappear.

Yesterday he decided to find out if he could still drive or not. At our urging it had been a couple weeks since he’d been behind the wheel. The short drive he took scared the shit out of him as he came close to multiple accidents, he later reported. For the first time he’s accepted his driving days are over. Of course the challenge will be, does he remember that tomorrow? When he got back home to an empty house following his wild ride yesterday afternoon, he fell. It took him 90 minutes to get himself back up. That has ended his arguments of not needing someone there all the time. He no longer can track the day or time. He can no longer be trusted to take his medication on his own, and we’ve had to call in help to be with him at night and soon now expand it to 24×7.

Even knowing his mental state, it is still very difficult for me to not listen to him, to not believe him, to not trust him. That is what I must accept. I can no longer be the good son who does what his father asks. He no longer knows what is in his, or anyone else’s’, best interest. He can no longer be trusted or believed. That has been the most difficult, and unexpected, part for me.

I’m sure some men are very good care takers and comfort providers, but I am not. I want to run, and ignore this all. I thank God on an hourly basis for my wife, Lori, who has been going to his house every day for the last few weeks. Being a care taker is something that comes naturally to her, plus she doesn’t have the baggage of growing up with this man weighing on things too.

This is the message on the Accepting What Is card.
It is an act of both power and faith to love, honor, and accept what is. At times it can be challenging to truly accept what’s occurring in your life. When you do so, however, you affirm that there’s a plan for your life and that everything is working for your highest good. Accepting “what is” doesn’t mean that you can’t work to change it, because you can. It does mean that there is gentle, yet profound, awareness that every experience can support your highest good and spiritual evolution.
If there is something you just can’t accept, start by gently acknowledging the fact that you can’t accept it. As you increase your own acceptance in life, this will help others be at peace in their own lives.”
Acceptance. It can be a real bitch.

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About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Akashic Records Reader and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities and Reiki, as well as other leadership programs and energy work modalities.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing, and is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel, and he is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be. Learn more about Andy at NavitasCoach.com

Mother’s Day

It is quite fitting, or a random coincidence, that I’m launching this site, Real Men Feel, on Mother’s Day. Mothers are the one thing most men in our society seem to be encouraged to love, even if that isn’t expressed verbally. Think of all the athletes interviewed on live TV after they did whatever great thing they did to win the big game and they sign off with, “Hi, Mom!”
Whether your mother is here or gone, your relationship is close or challenging, you wouldn’t be here without her so send her some love today. Hold her in your thoughts, pay her a visit, send a gift… your options are endless. Even if you can’t stand your mother, recognize that you simply would not be if not for her.

10 Things Mom Never Told You

Hi, Mom! I love you, mom. I miss you. Please forgive me. Thank you. I’m sorry. Word to your mother. Happy Mother’s Day!

  Word To Your Mother
Rhetoric is Rendered

#RealMenFeel

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About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Akashic Records Reader and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities and Reiki, as well as other leadership programs and energy work modalities.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing, and is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel, and he is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be. Learn more about Andy at NavitasCoach.com