Dem balls bones and dem heart bones weren’t in the song we learned as kids. But when they’re connected, it means you have power and integrity.
Remember that skeleton song, “Dem Bones,” which taught us about the body by singing about which bones were connected?
I was talking with a male client, who was lamenting the fact that, although he certainly had fantasies, he couldn’t quite get it up to engage in the post-divorce sexual spree that most of his divorced friends seemed to be thoroughly enjoying.
He was recovering from the loss. He was putting his life back together. Even when he got to a point where he was ready to have some fun, he said, “I just can’t be with someone that I don’t have have strong feelings for.”
He knew that even if he did happen to meet a woman who was in a similar place — wanting some physical pleasure and comfort but not ready for a full-on relationship — he would end up falling for her, and wanting to care for her, because that’s just what physical intimacy inspires this man to do.
In other words, his “balls bone” is connected to his “heart bone.”
And then, he added, “It’s always been that way. It’s such a drag.”
He’s not alone. Although we usually attribute this phenomenon to women, I’ve met several men who have confessed the same thing. Other than having to endure a period of celibacy in between relationships, it is not really a problem. The only thing problematic was when he looked at me in earnest and asked, “Maybe I need to man up?”
When we observe this phenomenon as a female issue, we tend to chalk up the attachment that surfaces with physical intimacy to a biologically driven “neediness:” Women attach to sexual partners because sex sets off a hormonally induced sense of connection designed to secure a family and protection for a potential child.
Conversely, we’re taught that men are “wired” to spread their seed and sow their oats. In these necessary but globalized scientific explanations, we avoid the topic of the heart and its connection to sex entirely. Everything gets boiled down to the fact that we are animals, driven to certain behaviors in service of pleasure and procreation.
But if we take hormones out of the picture for just a second — which is admittedly easier to do after 40 — you get a different view. Thank god our culture is no longer, on the whole, sexually repressive, but in the shift to sexual freedom, men and women have needed to develop a spilt between the heart and the groin, in order to navigate the terrain and take pleasure without getting emotionally trapped by it. Women, and I’m very much generalizing here, are just not as good at this. Society has put many costly pressures on both sexes, but women have felt less pressure to disconnect from their heart in sexual and emotional matters.
So, while a man who hasn’t mastered that split may feel less than manly, it only means that he is more connected to his heart.
If your heart and balls are inextricably linked, I hope it is not a source of shame. The advantages of the heart/ genital split have their costs as well. You may not enjoy the same sexual power and freedom of your compadres, but there is also power and integrity in being a person who is incapable of viewing another as an object to be reeled in and enjoyed solely for your personal benefit.
Photo: The Skeleton Dance/Super Simple Songs