Men Seeing Ourselves thru Broken Mirrors
By Alexander Ghanma
A man cuts himself shaving and his wife quips, “That’s the second time this week!”
He goes ballistic and starts yelling at her. Why?
Because he hears: “You’re a complete dumbass, I can’t believe you can’t even shave your face properly.”
Sounds crazy. But it’s all about “Broken Mirrors.”
Therapist, David Wexler uses that term, and that example, to explain that others act as mirrors. And how we see ourselves in the reflection affects our wellbeing.
Over-the-top reactions are especially big if we were shamed early in life, he says. Shamed boys become hypersensitive men, exaggerating slights, whether real or perceived. So these mirrors are broken and not reflecting reality.
This made me think about how many times I have done this to someone and how others have done this to me.
Men aren’t supposed to be sensitive, right? I never realized how truly sensitive we can be. Men don’t like to announce their sensitivity but the fact of the matter is that we are, even if we don’t display it as often as women do.
And maybe the fact that our more sensitive side is stifled leaves us over-sensitive so that we explode instead of talking about what’s going on and dealing with it before it becomes overwhelming.
Holding in our emotions may be caused by what Wexler calls “relational dread.” We men too often feel unequipped for the hard task of discussing feelings and connecting intimately. And that leaves us lonely and without love.
Unfortunately, those who are most desperate for affection are the ones who usually can’t ask for it, he adds.
They can’t ask for it because shame-o-phobia can leave us fearing being de-masculinized in public, or even in our private thoughts.
De-masculinized, meaning feminized. But what does “feminine” really mean? Men don’t want to be feminine but are feminine qualities bad? Actually, they are often very good: kindness, caring, connecting, being in touch with our emotions.
And we all came from women, so why would we not want to be like what created and supported us?
I feel that “masculinity” and “femininity” — and in particular, insisting we all stay in our sphere — limits our potential and creates separation and shame, leaving us all unequipped and feeling unworthy.
And shamed when we seek fuller selves.
This was written by one of my students who gave permission to post it. Also reposted at The Good Men Project.