The Detoxing Man is Respectful (of expertise and of trauma)
If I were to summarize the human experience in the broadest terms possible, it is the pursuit of expertise and the avoidance of trauma. We are constantly trying to live more, experience more love or joy, build deeper relationships or simply be happier. And as we seek this life, we accrue expertise, the knowledge of what each experience was like and how we handled it, whether well or badly. Yet, as we pursue this expertise, these encounters with abundant life, we are constantly trying to avoid pain and those who wish to inflict it upon us. We look to avoid trauma-inducing spaces, whether in toxic familial relationships or the suspicions of strangers for whom we represent a reprehensible other.
And yet, these are two sides of the same coin. Expertise is all of the moments we wished to have, that taught us something about ourselves or made the world momentarily brighter as we discovered some new corner of it. Trauma is all of the moments we wished didn’t happen, the ones that caused shame and self-reproaching torment. These are the moments that tore us down, even as our expertise attempted to build us up.
We must respect both of them. They make us who we are.
The moments I spent reading the Bible as a teenager and not understanding the rampant sexism I found throughout, ultimately having to reject large portions of it in order to find something worth holding onto. The challenge of these moments, of the men surrounding me within the church who were enacting the same kinds of patriarchal gatekeeping, they scarred my notions of what leadership should look like.
And other moments of researching what access to information and technology means for students from systemically oppressed communities, hardening my resolve in providing that access to the broadest group possible. The opportunity held within those moments, when I noticed that we could open up new avenues for connection across a large city, and the barriers still standing in the way of doing so.
Were these trauma or expertise-inducing? Were they hopeful or hopeless, should they be built upon or unpacked? Both.
And, yet where I see abuse, the kind that makes your blood curdle from inhuman subjugation, it is hard to see any expertise being gained for its victims. That is why it deserves our respect and understanding. We disrespect those who undergo unforgivable trauma by looking away or choosing not to address the root causes. It is our expertise they are informing, if we choose to find it, to respect it.
I respect the trauma of poverty my wife experienced in her childhood. I respect the trauma of religious fundamentalism I experienced within my own. I respect the trauma of transphobia and bullying my son experiences. I respect the trauma of rape, of a judicial system that doesn’t work equally for all, of radicalization toward hate by social media companies who strive for ever more engagement. I respect it so that it becomes my expertise, so that it may increase my ability to tackle it, to find my own responsibility within it, and to prevent it whenever I can so that the cycles of trauma do not persist as if they were simple coin flips of fate.
@themasculinitydetox “We disrespect those who undergo unforgivable trauma by looking away or choosing not to address the root causes. It is our expertise they are informing, if we choose to find it, to respect it.” The Detoxing Man is Respectful (of expertise and of trauma) – 27 of 30. Who can we better respect the trauma of others as we seek more expertise for ourselves? #toxicmasculinity #positivemasculinity #masculinitydetox #trauma #traumahealing #expertise #mysoginy #sexism #religioustrauma #patriarchy #heartonmysleeve ♬ original sound – The Masculinity Detox