Sunday, February 24, 2008

Speaking the Unspeakable

Today I write with difficulty. Not like most days (as in yesterday … when I couldn’t even make it home, from work, for fear that my stream of thought would be broken and I would lose all that my Muse [that still, small whisper that is Life’s voice to my Spirit] was giving me. So I had to stop at McDonald’s …have a cup of coffee in the most remote booth … take out my wonderful Friend (my Waterman fountain pen) and write like a crazy man.) But not so today!

For today I am speaking to you from a reluctant heart. Not reluctant because of any reservation or doubt about my message. But, instead, hesitant because of a lifetime of ingrained and indoctrinated mental bondage. Today I am going to speak of what is quieted in every man that I have ever known. What is kept locked behind the impenetrable door of “A Gentleman does not speak of such things.”

And it is the doing of a new reader and, I trust, a new friend (Jeanne) who wrote a lovely Email to me yesterday. In her gracious note, she said (in part) “I want to encourage you to continue to put your feelings and thoughts out there for those of us who are not as able to tell others how we feel.”. And that statement set my mind to work. Upon awakening, this morning, I was visited by my Muse’s nudging imperative “You MUST speak to this! There is someone who needs to hear it … today!” So, My patient and forgiving Reader … here ‘tis.

Jeanne’s statement stirred a long-simmering and sometimes-boiling-over burden on my soul. That being our woefully-inadequate and usually-stilted efforts to know (in our own minds) and/or communicate (to those, who matter most to us) our truest feelings. Fear of “sounding stupid,” “appearing awkward,” “saying ’the wrong thing’,” “REJECTION!,” and myriad hang-ups, of all sort and description, keep all (and I freely say “all” because the exception is so rare as to be listed on the registry of extinct species) silent and unwilling to permit so much as a thought to ourselves about the genuine nature of our feelings.

I can best tell you what I need tell you by relating to two who will remain anonymous and a third who will be painfully revealed (Me.) The first that I will mention is an acquaintance who, in his later years (he is now deceased) spoke often to me about his miserable relationship with his wife of many decades. He was beyond unhappy. He was bitter and angry. “She pats my leg, as we get into bed, then turns over and goes to sleep. Just like I am some little house-pet that gets a little “nice doggy” before being dismissed. She is content that I am there … where she wants me to be … and that is all that matters to her. Well! That is not what matters to me.” he continued, “I am a man! And, damn it! I want to be respected and treated like a man,”

But had he ever had this discussion with his wife? Was the door of receptiveness open with her? No, to the first. And another No, to the second. For … My Darling Reader, the topic was simply pushed away with the broom of “A Gentleman does not speak of such things.”

He made it quite clear to me … in no uncertain terms … that he wanted (oh my, I am going to say it!) … s e x . He was as aware as anyone … MORE aware than anyone … of the reality of his impotence. That was not the issue. The issue was in his stated “I am not her little house-pet! I am a man!” but he had no skills … no confidence … no common ground for intimate conversation … no respectful, trusting, accepting basis for opening himself to suggesting, to her, that … maybe … perhaps … just suppose … there were alternative ways for them to exchange expressions of still-alive passions and desires. How tragic!

The second of my illustrations is in someone brought to my attention by an acquaintance. The grandfather, of this acquaintance, was (at age 84) eagerly and anxiously anticipating his soon-scheduled wedding. When the person known to me, asked his grandfather what the hurried rush was all about, the grandfather replied with something in the order of “when you discover that “things” that you had not known, for many years, are working … you, at my age, do not delay the use of those “things.”

Now, that would seem to be (and indeed was related to me as )a “cute” little story. But what I find troubling in the account is the stark fact that this man … far along in his journey … was unaware of his own locked away desires and needs for “many years.” Why? Because “A Gentleman does not speak of such things.” And he was (he is, also, now deceased) beyond all else “A Gentleman.” Leaving him and all of those men with whom he shared weekly get-togethers over coffee, fishing trips, social and lodge meetings and gatherings, absent a healthy exchange of very basic and humanly fundamental discussions, because “A Gentleman does not speak of such things.” To all of that I say (with every element of eloquence I can muster) “Horse Dung!!”

Hence I get to the third of my illustrations (Ouch! This is already hurting [in the vulnerability and self revealing way]). I must, first, (yes … I am stalling) say that … I am in love with “someone.” She is a remarkable “Someone.” And, No! We are not going to be “getting together.” The combined circumstances of our separate sets of requirements and commitments will not permit that happy end-result. We have both acknowledged that painful reality. Yet, we are, in our silly, almost-adolescent giddiness, quite in love with each other. And with that comes the inevitable (and altogether delightful) lustful passion familiar to lovers. And here is where I must not only cross … but trample into the dust of oblivion … the walls of “A Gentleman does not speak of such things.” Because, you see, we both want to express our affections to each other in terms that are beyond propriety. We have a craving to make known to each other the depths and intricacies of our secret and most-guarded yearnings. She is at a marked advantage in the fact that (our male-dominated) society quietly endorses the Woman’s knowledge of, and ability to speak of, the Man’s “equipment.” But, to the extreme contrary, The Man is expressly forbidden to have even an at-a-distance knowledge of the Woman’s corresponding anatomy. (I think that I am doing fairly well so far … don’t you?) Therefore, motivated by my respect for this Lady’s right to have me speak of all of the ways in which I would want to give her pleasure, I was compelled to Google “anatomy of female genitalia.”

I want you to know, beyond question, that as hard as it was to type those words just now … it was at least equally difficult for me to type them into that anonymous “search window” at the top of my browser. I had the overwhelming sense of skulking in shadows and slithering along the gutter scum of some gutter in a neighborhood where I had no business being. But there before me was a depiction of something lovely, delicate, all together as deserving of all of the poets’ attempts to describe womanhood in terms of flower petals and blossoms of joyous description. And I had willfully entered the mystical realm of where “A Gentleman does not speak of such things.” And I am pleased that I have ended three-score years of wasteful ignorance.

And, Dear One … I GUARANTEE YOU … most of the men reading this message have not made it even this far on the page. Hence my point. We are all made in a glorious and beyond-description beautiful way. To hide the magnificence of our feelings … the wonder and magic of our desires … the intricacies and mystically fulfilling magnificence of our bodies … from our Selves … or the ones who we care most for and desire most to be part of … is a foolish waste of a gift beyond measure.

There! I’ve said it! And if you want to have me remove your name from my Email mailing list … simply send me a “please discontinue Emails to me” note … and I will respectfully comply. But if you are the struggling One for whom I have willed myself to open my most private and personal Self to today … Please take some tiny step of healthy “wall removal” from your life. Begin, this moment, to dismantle those barriers impeding your comfortable knowledge of your own feelings, needs, and desires … and those of that special Someone in your life. Perhaps consider giving a copy of this plea to your Someone … that they too can begin to understand that Gentlemen and Ladies, alike, have a respectful obligation … borne of a trusting and caring concern for the fulfillment and happiness of each other …to know … accept … embrace … and celebrate with your Loved One all … I repeat … ALL , that is available to you for your very best life.

I humbly thank you for your indulgence in my efforts at your encouragement.


Merelyme said...

it is not unspeakable because you just spoke it. :>) i think you are doing just fine.

John-Michael said...

Thank you, Maam (that's how we talk here in "the South" [y'know])

I am grateful for your encouraging words.

Don Mills Diva said...

This was a lovely and courageous post - thank you.

Misty Dawn said...

You spoke it and spoke it very eloquently. You are an inspirational and beautiful human being. I consider your gift of sharing your thoughts and your words with me a blessing. Thank you.

After we moved here in June, I once teased a friend about his 'way of talking', and his girlfriend asked, "Y'all think we talk funny?" My quick reply was, "Nope, of course not. Just him." Then we all laughed at my teasin' and continued heading for that spot over yonder where we were gonna set up camp ;-)

John-Michael said...

Thank you, Dear Lady. I suppose my trepidation was transparent. This was something that has been on my heart for a very long time.

I hope that my emotions did not cloud what I tried to say (I do, sometimes allow that.)

You have propped me back up a bit.

John-Michael said...

My Dear "Don Mills Diva" (your gentle and kind spirit thoroughly dispels the "diva" moniker [smile]).

You are most gracious in your recognizing the (well, I have been candid thus far ...) frightening prospect of offering something of such import from my most private Self.

Thank you for nurturing this old dinosaur.

tati said...

Sex is so important, so vital. It's a form of deep, primal, nuanced communication. It is dear, it is precious, and it runs everything. Somehow, it's been hijacked away from everyday discourse in everyday life. Kudos to you for acknowledging your own needs and your desire for deeper (pun intended) connection to a new beloved.

I've been working on remaining physically in love with my beloved after many years together, and I've learned alot from books on the subject. Life's too short to go wanting, as I'm sure you agree.

To the Jewish, it is a mitzvah to have sex on the eve of the Sabbath, as I understand it. A blessed deed.

John-Michael said...

Please accept my most grateful thanks for your sublime statement of the core of all that I have attempted to do here.

You are, indeed, a blessing.


Classic Charm said...

Thank you for your honesty on this subject. Why people make it so taboo is beyond me. It is a natural part of life. I read each and every word in your post, and I will certainly be back here. Your writing captures...

John-Michael said...

T o make myself so vulnerable (how it felt to write this) is unsettling... yes, even scary. But your encouragement sooths and quiets that uneasiness.

I am grateful!


nitebyrd said...

I know someone who also never spoke of such things. He became resented and then ignored by the object of his love. Thank the Gods he found his voice before his love turned away from him forever.

Now that he can speak of such things, he does and often. His life has improved 100-fold and he's having plentiful and varied sex. His regret is that he didn't speak sooner.

John-Michael said...

Thank you, Dear One, for validating my concerns and making crystal clear the core of what I so-awkwardly tried to say.

Yours, in company with preceding comments from kind friends, is an encouragement to me.


david mcmahon said...

Bless your eloquence. I always have time for a person who uses a pen - especially a Waterman.

John-Michael said...

Can there be a bond more sacred?

Glad to be a comrade!

jeanne said...

Thank you so much for putting pen to paper and your soul thoughts out for all of us to read.
A new reader and friend, jeanne

John-Michael said...

Dear Jeanne,

Life's timing is immaculate! Here I am struggling with yet another, gut-wrencher. And your voice visits and encourages.

I am complimented (and tickled pink) to have you include me as your Friend. This is something that I cherish.

John-Michael said...

Hello, Jeanne ... please Email me (link is on my blog) to let me know where to find your blog. (just checked your profile and nothing there notes it.)

Thank you.

Jenera said...

Being a youngin' myself and not married for too long, your post is a gentle reminder to keep working on a such an integral part of a marriage or relationship.


Crystal Jigsaw said...

I have been redirected here by David McMahon who has quite understandably nominated you in his Post Of The Day post. I can see why. He has impeccable taste. You write a commendable blog and I am glad I have found you.

Crystal Jigsaw xx

John-Michael said...

You will both reap a harvest of delight!

Your spirit reveals a caring person ... He is blessed.


John-Michael said...

Crystal Jigsaw, I too am in Sir David's (a personally awarded title of respect) debt. He has navigated me to some pleasing and inspiring blogs.

I am grateful to you, not only for your kindness in reading such a long missive, but being caring enough to speak with me.


Jules~ said...

John-Michael...thank you so much for writing this post. I admire the amount of courage that you took to say and write the truth of your heart.

John-Michael said...

Must confess ... twas more than a bit unsettling. But the hope that there was some soul waiting for my droplet of encouragement outweighed my fears.

I am grateful for your recognition of that. Speaking to it is very kind of you.

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