We all have our stories. Every man has his story of how he has become the man he is today. Yet, we do not always put a lot of time into knowing our story – or sharing it with others. It lets others in beyond the surface of so much of how we present ourselves in the world today. Our story is the blood rushing through us. I share a part of my story – as I understand it today – with you because it lets you know a little about who I really am. I share a part of my journey of becoming a man because it is a part of our stories we haven’t spent a lot of time taking to honor – or share with one another.
As an adolescent I had an unusual and deeply painful experience. My body literally did not grow. To say I was a late bloomer is an understatement. I became acutely aware of this in eighth grade, but there were still a few other boys who also had yet to hit puberty. The summer between eighth and ninth grade I had hoped “it” would happen, but it didn’t. I stayed short and began to feel more and more powerless. The shame about who I was and about my body began to spread like a weed throughout my psyche. It was a secret, and I had to protect myself from being found out to save myself from the ultimate humiliation.
The truth is that as a prepubescent young man I stood outside the usual images of masculinity. I started to see the Water, not because I consciously and thoughtfully reflected on the Man Rules, but because I was not a man. As I felt myself in the Water, I also felt the dissonance between what seemed to be the ideal masculinity and me. I was drowning in the Water and desperate to find some degree of solace. Burning in my psyche was this constant and resounding voice telling me that I was not a man. I believed it. That voice haunted me. The worst part was that once I grew to almost six feet tall and matured into what many people consider to be a handsome man, it was too late. The damage had been done. Like anorexics wasting away on death’s door who still see themselves as fat, it has taken twenty-plus years for me to not see the gaunt, prepubescent five-foot boy looking back at me in the mirror. And he can still show up when I’m under stress or feeling threatened.
What is your story about how you have become the man or woman you are today? Are you willing to share the chapters you are still trying to forget? The ones you tried to rip out of the book of your life? Do you know yet that those are the greatest parts of your story? If your voice does not shake when you tell your story to others then it probably isn’t your story. Do you know your story of your life is the greatest story ever told?