Life started out pretty good for me, growing up in a small town in Connecticut. We lived in a rural area where my daily playmates were my sister and the two girls who lived next door. I had male friends who would come over occasionally but most of my days were filled with playing with those three girls. I never really thought much about being the only boy because I saw myself as just one of the kids. We played a lot of “gender neutral” games like tag, hide-n-seek, etc. and we also played games that were considered exclusive to girls at that time but I didn’t care. Looking back, I see that I was a very happy boy at that time.
That happiness carried over into my early years of school. I started playing with boys a lot more and the games changed dramatically. I was introduced to the competitive spirit that had already been conditioned in many of my friends. I lagged a little behind in that area, having spent most of my time with girls to that point but I caught on quickly. I had been gifted with physical coordination and intelligence which enabled me to thrive in this new competitive world of sports and academics so I embraced it. Measuring myself against other boys suited me just fine because I was always near the top and that brought many friendships with it.
As I got a little older and the girls started looking good to me and my friends, my competitive success continued. I was considered to be pretty attractive and had little trouble scoring the prettiest girls that we all competed for.
Sports, academics, and girls were the big three by which I measured my value against the other boys and I was doing pretty well in all three. I had some natural gifts and a conditioned competitive drive that kept me sitting at the top of the mountain. There always seemed to be one or two boys who beat me in an individual category but, in my mind, nobody was better in all three. The prize was to be the most popular and excelling in all three areas by which we measured ourselves, gave me that honor.
It wouldn’t be long before my house of cards came crashing down though, as a new standard of measurement was introduced to me. This new standard trumped all the others in my mind because it was the difference between being a boy and being a man.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I had just made the “A” division soccer team and I was the youngest boy on the team. After practice, I was introduced to the locker room for the first time and my world changed forever. As we all disrobed and hit the showers I discovered that for the first time in my life, I didn’t measure up.
In an instant, I had fallen from that mountaintop of being a good-looking, lettered athlete, honor roll student to the dark abyss of being a good-looking, lettered athlete, honor roll student with a SMALL DICK.
Suddenly, the “Big Three” was no longer important to me. Faced with the reality that no amount of effort on my part could change what I perceived as the measuring stick of a man, I withdrew and began a lifelong descent into my own private hell. I dropped out of sports, withdrew from dating girls, and became the class clown, using humor to hide my shame.
In my need for connection, I sought out other boys who seemed to be living in their personal hell. Most of them had not enjoyed the level of success I had as a boy so I had to work hard to get accepted by them. I had to “dumb myself down” academically and scale back on things like hygiene and dress but I knew how to adapt easily so eventually I fit in just fine. I discovered that drugs and alcohol provided temporary relief from my shame so I began my 30 year descent into addiction.
Later on I added porn to my resume of addictions which filled a void left by my fear of intimacy. It also fueled the fire of my shame as I compared myself to the freaks of nature starring in those videos. I gravitated toward the cuckold videos, seeing myself as the inadequate wimp being emotionally abused by his mistress whore and her lover. This validated my beliefs of self-worthlessness and led to physical impotence.
I spent the majority of my adult life, living safely below my means in relationships, careers, and health because flying under the radar kept me from being exposed for the inadequate man I perceived myself to be. The irony is, I’ve never had any complaints from a lover about my size so, as far as I know I’m the only one who saw myself that way.
It wasn’t until after years of recovery, therapy, and connecting with other good men in a safe environment that I was able to discover how much my misconception of manhood had spilled over into every area of my life.
This is still a very difficult topic for me to discuss with other men, even in the safest environment. Often, we use jokes and humor as a way to shield ourselves from something we don’t want see in ourselves. The problem is, dismissing things as silly only adds to the shame.
Changing a man’s subconscious beliefs can only come about from conscious practice. This starts with dialogue. It’s only by letting go of the bullshit judgments and being willing to have serious conversations with other conscious men that I’ve begun to heal and hopefully, become the man I was put on this earth to be.
Previously published on Life Beyond Clean
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