The Great Experiment

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One reason I started writing this blog was to start conversations. I think we could all benefit from talking to each other more. And not the kind of, you know, hey how are ya’ oh you know notsobad kinda talking. It feels like we are afraid to talk to each other about things like sex and drugs and violence and politics and religion and the like. It feels like we are afraid to disagree. It seems like in the face of disagreement violence and hurt feelings and isolation are the rule and not the exception. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Another reason that I started writing was to explore my passion for uncovering our intrinsic value. I spent most of my life looking for something or someone to tell me that I mattered. And, you know, they did. And, you know, it kinda sorta scratched around the itch but I never quite believed it. So I kept looking. In drugs. In alcohol. In money and buying things. In sex. In gambling. If any of this is sounding familiar…yeah…there’s nothing new under the sun according to Solomon.

Serving in the Marines made up so much of my identity.

Serving in the Marines made up so much of my identity.

We all face these same struggles. It’s like the world is coming apart outside our door and we are all in the same house huddled up against the danger but nobody wants to talk about how to deal with it. Or, if we do start talking about it, we are all insistent on proving to everyone around us that we are ok instead of exploring each other’s ideas on how to face the danger at the door; instead of talking about the fear.

By way of example I can tell you that for most of my life if I went on a date with someone and it didn’t go well I would be likely to say something like “ah fuck it. it was weird and awkward and she wasn’t my type. Eh, I’m not gonna see her again.” What I realize now is that the rough translation of that is actually: “We went on a second date and she told me she just wanted to be friends. I feel like nobody will ever love me and that I’ll always be alone. Everyone around me is happy and in love and what the fuck is wrong with me!?!?!?””

Men are taught early that we are not to use language like that. There is no sense of emotional exposure in the brand of masculine identity that I was exposed to growing up.

Exposing our emotions exposes us to fear. At the heart of a lot of that fear is shame. Shame is a very specific type of fear. it is the fear of disconnection. It is the fear that something about you or something that you have done makes you unworthy of belonging. When we feel like we might disconnect from another human being, when we feel like we might be left all alone in our world, we react. Most of the time that reaction shows itself through fear and anger. And it is rooted in shame. And shame is something that men just don’t talk to each other about. I would like to help change that. I’m starting with me. I’m leading off with topics like this because they are the ones that have kept me stifled and closeted most of my life.

When I was in the depths of this loneliness and disconnection I was violent and unpredictable. I tried to quiet the noise inside. I used drugs and alcohol for years. I struggled with addiction to pills. The pills turned into more pills. That turned into heroin. And it only got worse from there. I was trying to cover up the FEELING of disconnection. And here’s the thing…here is where I want to turn the conversation. I realize now that I was never actually ever disconnected or separate or alone. Feeling something is not the same BEING something. There is a way to find your way to the self beyond the fluctuation of the emotion. There is a pure and perfect and supremely capable YOU that is always there. They have always been there. You have never been broken or separate. Did you know that YOU have ALWAYS been whole? There is nothing missing in you.

So how does a guy go from the depths of addiction and divorce…from the brink of suicide…to a place of peace and hope? For me, it started in a writing circle, and on a yoga mat. And I can’t wait to share those stories with you. Until next time…drop and comment and let’s talk.

Love - Bobby

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Robert Plagmann3 Comments