Seriously. What the fuck is going on with men today? Suicide rates are through the roof, drug addiction is rife and men are tangled in a web of identity crisis all at a time when they are supposed to be the ones unfairly benefitting from an unjust patriarchal system.
I am informed time and again that the high suicide rates are due to some form of ‘toxic masculinity’, and that drug addiction and mental health problems stem from the supposed male inability to talk about their feelings.
Apparently, all we need to do as men is relinquish traditional notions of masculine purpose and responsibility and talk about how wounded we are all the time.
As a man on the rebound from addiction, childhood abuse issues and suicidal ideation, my experience of recovery is nothing like the mainstream narrative that dominates the headlines.
In fact, it’s the opposite.
While I’ve got no problem with men opening up, exorcizing their trauma or exhibiting emotional honesty, to simply open that door and state that’s all we need do to get healthier is highly inadequate and, in the long run, damaging.
It’s like making an incision to remove a tumour, pulling the tumour out and then marvelling at its ugliness, never seeking to sow the skin back together and create a model for life that focuses on not getting a tumour again.
If a man has mental health issues, addictions or traumas, yes, he must speak about them, but the journey doesn’t end there, he must then take the action to strengthen himself and grow stronger, tougher and wiser as a man, lest he fall into the same traps emotional traps time and again.
Just as trying to be a man without negative emotions and weakness is foolish and unwise, so too is opting to stunt a man’s growth and keep him locked forever in the place of pain via pandering to his vulnerabilities.
There is a balance that must be sought: One of honesty, action and emotional mastery.
Becoming a Man
Being able to get over my own sense of victimization and confused hatred of a ‘patriarchal’ system allowed me to get in touch with the life-giving masculine energies of discipline, courage and purpose.
This move has been so empowering in my life and recovery from addiction and mental health issues that I have finally felt a sense of belonging and meaning, of clarity and purpose.
Let me say, it is NOT easy to live up to the traits of discipline, courage and purpose. But in the pursuit of them, I have witnessed the reality around me straighten out, become clearer and empower me internally with a deep sense of drive.
I achieved all this and none of it has made me hate women, or believe they should be treated unequally as men, nor do I look down on (or sycophantically up to) other men, something I did all the time when I described myself as a feminist male.
The Lost Boy
I can see the errors of masculinity down the centuries and appreciate the value of the sexual revolution, but it seems to me that the whole movement has become a bastardized version of what it once was, leading to our current state in which the whole notion of masculinity itself is severely confused and controversial.
It seems that masculinity is often portrayed as bad or useless. And things got even worse with a neo-Marxist strand injected into the gender debate, leaving us at a place where men living in a masculine essence are oppressors of women in a power dynamic.
This got to such an extent in my story that by virtue of growing up around violent male family members and educated in liberal arts colleges and universities, I formulated opinions of traditional masculinity as erratic, unpredictable and viciously hostile.
I fell directly into the trap of hating the notion of masculinity and hating what I thought it meant: undeserved power, greed and treachery.
Yet as my hatred intensified, my life worsened. My impulsivity reigned supreme, my nerves jangled relentlessly and my sense of victimhood was central to my identity, making the world a hostile and scary place, rather than a place of opportunity and learning.
As a young and deeply lost man I gravitated towards those that expressed what I felt, too. The victims of the broken homes, the weirdoes and the afraid: naturally like other guys in this mess I was a big Nirvana fan.
Kurt Cobain embodied the pain I felt; he was militantly anti-masculine in temperament, often dressing as a woman and sticking a middle finger up to notions of traditional values, career ambition and disciplined restraint.
I shared those traits and like him I wanted to kill myself too (go figure).
I read Kurt Cobain’s suicide note recently and was struck by the opening line:
“Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee.”
It’s easy to see looking back that he was ill. But that drive for him to want to be ‘emasculated’ and ‘infantile’ is pretty fucking stark. What the fuck is that?
The best way I can describe it now is some form of self-hatred. A self-hatred of not being a man and hating masculinity anyhow. That is the message I believe that young men like I once was are still taking up today. That message goes something like: Never be a man; that is bad. Be the innocent lost boy, afraid of his own shadow, that is good.
Yet men in the ravages of addiction and depression stand no chance if they cannot be empowered.
You can see how rotten things have gotten when you contemplate the very idea of young men being ‘empowered’, only women can be empowered, right? Not young men surely, for they have all the power already, right?
Wrong. Look at the stats. Suicide is one, and sometimes the, biggest killer of young men (16-40) in the Western World.
It looks to me that many young men are completely losing their way.
How Women Hold the Key
In essence, that hellish baby wail of pain that millions of men around the world identified with is what I was reaffirming in my love of Nirvana.
I lived as if that inner wailing had great meaning for many years, thinking because Kurt Cobain acted like me and espoused my fears and inadequacies and was a superstar, women would like me like they liked him.
‘They must love his neediness and pain,’ I remember thinking, not realizing it was clearly that he was on stage playing to millions of adoring fans (aka, a high-status male).
So, ironically, the thing that began to chip away at this world-view that masculinity was somehow bad was women themselves.
It was by years of trial and experience (and insights from mind blowing books such as this gem: Way of the Superior Man) that I finally began to learn that women are attracted to dominant masculine behaviour, not needy boyish behaviour.
Despite the women who loved Kurt Cobain as I did saying they liked empathy, craziness and softness in men, traits such as direction, non-neediness, ambition and security were what actually took me out of the friend zone and into the sexual partner zone.
This explained exactly the traits I didn’t have that would see me lose out time and again to some chick I really liked to some average guy throughout my life.
By picking up on this basic truth, I began to act in more masculine ways. And here’s the thing, not only did my luck with women drastically improve, I began to feel much, much better internally.
Becoming Part of the Chain
As I developed as a man, learning what that actually meant – hard work, focus, ambition, self-reliance – I began to see why women were keener on driven, strong and positive guys.
Given our evolutionary background, women are hardwired to want a man who handles his business, has himself together, deals with his wounds and goes out in the world with goals and achieves them.
It was only a few thousand years ago when if men didn’t act like this that meant a woman and her children were vulnerable to all kinds of vicious tribal attacks.
Therefore, most women want a man who wants to embody what masculinity stands for, not a guy who can’t stop talking about his feelings and crying. And that is a good thing for men!
It is this essence that pick-up artists around the world teach, yet men seeking to represent masculinity truly cannot fall for such folly and dishonesty, because not only does being in a masculine core attract women, it also engenders you with a deep sense of meaning, purpose and responsibility that is hard-wired into you as well.
Masculinity as an essence has physical, spiritual and emotional properties, and we are capable of great things if we are willing to be humble, respectful and tough.
It is a duty to use our energy wisely and positively for the good of ourselves, our families, and our societies; not to trick women or to belittle others.
Life, as many of us men in recovery know, can get very, very dark, and behaving with a code of honour, with a willingness to work hard, to respect people and social values, is what keeps the darkness at the gates for you and your loved ones.
That is how powerful engaging with your masculinity is.
A Man in Recovery
I know I don’t speak for every man in recovery from addiction, nor do I intend to, but I do intend to speak directly those like me who have never known another way, of which I believe there are many.
My recovery from addiction and childhood abuse trauma has been completely synonymous with my growth into a man.
I am lucky to have found great passion in the texts I’ve read from the great warriors of history who never gave in, and even luckier to have gone through the blender of Marxist gender-based indoctrination during a Master’s degree.
Going through that brainwashing and suffering from it at full-strength has indoctrinated me against such folly. I know am free to be what I am.
To summarize a key point, whilst I agree men require spaces to talk about their pain and problems to begin and maintain their journey of recovery, I am wholly passionate that men use their internal fears as the basis on which to create deep, everlasting change.
Once that change is accomplished, having a clear goal of becoming a tough, balanced and strong man is completely rational, not to mention healthy and helpful to your family, friends, and society.
Even more so, taking the step into recovery and aligning with your internal sense of masculinity actually gives you the freedom to create a new model of positive masculine strength.
Below is some key reading to get you started on your journey: