Patrick has been experiencing a mysterious pain for some time without any medical explanation. He has done the tests and seen the doctors and receives a good bill of health each time. So why the pain? Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and Patrick dig for the hidden lessons of the mystery pain. Patrick reveals what triggers the discomfort and is sure it is triggered by particular stressors, especially since the pain really started during his very painful divorce. Marc and Patrick dive into a really important conversation about the divine masculine, what it means to be a “good” man in today’s world, and where he is being called to step more into his role as a leader in life.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David. And here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m with Patrick today. Welcome, Patrick.
Patrick: Thank you. Thank you, Marc.
Marc: Yeah. So Patrick and I have been just kind of schmoozing for about five minutes before we get going. For those of you out there who are new to the Psychology of Eating podcast, here’s how it works. Patrick and I have never met officially before but just for five minutes before we started chitchatting. And the idea is we’re going to have a session together. We’re going to see what Patrick wants to work on. And we’re going to try to push the fast forward button and help you get as much accomplished in one session as is humanly possible. So that’s the idea and I appreciate you doing this, Patrick.
So why don’t you just share with me, with viewers and listeners, what’s the key thing you would love to work on and get some forward movement with?
Patrick: Okay. For about four, five years, I’ve had sort of a pain in my groin area, kind of a phantom pain. I went to doctors to have them kind of check it out and they ran labs and did x–rays and things like that. Didn’t find anything. They saw a pretty healthy guy. And I feel like it has some root in my divorce and during that time period or something like that, because at the time I was going through a lot and drinking heavily and things like that. I don’t know, and so it was a pretty traumatic time of my life.
So I don’t know, I think it has to do with that sort of emotionally on some level. Yeah, I guess I’ve tried a lot of different approaches. I am a dietitian, so I’ve tried a lot of different diets and strategies to detoxes and things like that and nothing seems to do really much to it. It’s always sort of an underlying pain. It’s not really a hard pain to live with but it’s always there and I feel it. So yeah, that sort of…
Marc: How long ago did it start?
Patrick: I’ve been trying to think about that but I think it’s been about five years ago, yeah. Yeah.
Marc: And you think it’s related to past relationship, past divorce. Just help me, how did you kind of come up with that idea? What made you conclude that or think that?
Patrick: Well, I guess when I was going through that, I was drinking pretty heavily. But at the same time, I would try to compensate for drinking heavily and I would drink a lot of water at the same time. And then I think I was putting a lot of pressure on my bladder or my kidneys and that whole system during that time, I guess. I just remember there being a time when I could feel that like it was like a lot of pain in that area when I was waking up and I had to urinate for a long time and it wasn’t really helping, I don’t think. I just have a memory of it for some reason. And that’s where I got that, I guess.
Marc: Great. And on a scale from one to 10, 10 being like the worst possible pain in human history, zero being pain free, where is the range that the pain generally hangs out in?
Patrick: Yeah. It’s usually like a one or two. It kind of kicks up a little bit more when I’m stressed to maybe to three, four or something like that but it’s never really anything too, too bad. It’s mostly on the left side but then sometimes I’ll feel it on both sides, I mean like as far as that general area.
Marc: So, it kicks up when you’re stressed.
Marc: Any other times that you notice that it increases?
Patrick: I’ve noticed it, well, if I’ve ever been in session with a therapist talking about those things, I feel it more in that area. I definitely do. And that’s another reason why I kind of felt like it definitely had to do with that. But I didn’t know for sure but yeah. Those other times that I’m talking about that past relationship or things that pertain to that, my current relationship, and I have a daughter out of that relationship. If there are issues with my daughter, maybe I’m starting to kind of feel that too.
Marc: I just want to say before we move forward, in general, phantom pain—I’m going to call it phantom because that’s what the medical profession will often label it. We, the collective we, we have this interesting challenge because just because science or medical science can’t measure something.
So my assumption is you’ve had all kinds of good testing and there’s nothing wrong with you. Is that correct, according to what the medical profession’s telling you?
Marc: Yeah. So the challenge is there’s nothing wrong with you but there’s something wrong. There’s something happening. You are noticing something. So, first of all, I just want to say good for you for just trusting yourself, really.
Marc: But you’ve got to trust yourself. You have to honor your body. You have to honor your own body wisdom. And you’re raising your hand and going, “Okay, I’ve done everything I can so far, in terms of testing, to help myself with this. The medical profession tells me, ‘According to our test nothing is wrong.’ But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing wrong.” This happens all the time. People are sick. They’re tired. They’re chronically fatigued. They have digestive issues. And they get all kinds of tests and there’s nothing wrong. But there’s something wrong.
Marc: So here we are stepping a little bit outside of the usual paradigm now to try to figure out. And I think you’re wisely saying, “Hey, this could be a psychosomatic symptom.” And psychosomatic is really a very sweet term for, it’s influenced by mind and emotions and feelings. And that’s real. Our mind, our emotions, our feelings are real.
So I just wanted to kind of let you know my belief in that. And I just hope that, in this whole process, you honor yourself and not feel guilty because you think there’s something wrong with you and other people think there’s nothing wrong with you.
Patrick: Okay. All right. Thank you.
Marc: You see where I’m going with that?
Patrick: Yes, I understand what you’re saying.
Marc: Yeah. So like this is a place where you have to empower yourself to go, “Thank you everybody for your opinions. I know something’s happening in this body over here.”
Marc: So that, to me, is first and foremost. Do you notice times when like, wow, I got like no pain. It’s been on a zero for days or weeks. Or when are the best times for no pain or pain free, if such a thing exists for you?
Patrick: I mean I think that it’s the kind of pain where if I’m not paying attention to my body, I don’t feel it kind of thing. So yeah, if I’m having a great time and enjoying the company of others or… yeah, in general, just feeling happy about things, I mean I don’t really notice it that much and it’s not there. But I can’t think of a specific time where it’s like not there or something. I think, usually, when I check into my body, if I do like sort of a body scan, it’s always sort of kind of there, yeah.
Marc: So in terms of professional help that you’ve been getting in terms of like therapy or therapist, what does that person or that community of people think? Like have you gotten any, for you, useful insights, oh, they think it’s oomph.
Patrick: I think in a lot of ways, I don’t know if it’s specifically related to this but through therapy, I really have—and going through training as well—really felt like it’s more to do with me. A lot of it is that I was sort of checked out of my body for a good amount of time, especially when I was first getting into nutrition and kind of feeling like I was toxic and going on all kinds of different detoxes and trying to fix myself as it were.
And I think that’s been a big part of it recently that I’ve been really starting to just really embody in general. I’ve been kind of a space cadet, more of a vata kind of personality my whole life in general, I think.
Marc: How old are you now, Patrick?
Patrick: I’m going to be 39 pretty soon.
Patrick: Around the corner.
Marc: And you said you have a daughter from your first marriage.
Patrick: Yeah. I do.
Marc: And are you in contact with your ex?
Patrick: Not really. Well, like I said, I take care of my daughter full time, basically. I mean I talk to her mother occasionally, very occasionally, if I have to, if I need something that pertains to my daughter. But usually no. No, we don’t talk at all.
Marc: And was she your first significant relationship, would you say?
Marc: How long were you together?
Patrick: We were together for about, I think, this one was about six years altogether.
Marc: Total, marriage plus…
Patrick: Total. Marriage plus before that, yeah.
Marc: And here’s a weird question. If you were her, you were her, and I was saying to her, you, right now, “Hey, Patrick has this pain. Why do you think it’s there?” What do you think she would say?
Patrick: I guess I would say, “You’re holding on to how I hurt you or I…I don’t know. You’re angry, you’re really angry about how our relationship came out. I mean you’re holding on to that and you want to tell me something.” There’s a lot of anger that comes out of it whenever, in general, I think about that relationship. I guess that’s what I would say that she would say. That’s a tough question.
Marc: Sure. It is a very tough question. Yeah, I definitely acknowledge that. Have you ever gotten angry at her while you were with her, afterwards? Was than an emotion you had an easy time expressing?
Patrick: No. Well, of course, I’ve been in arguments with her for sure afterwards, definitely. But usually over custody or things like around that like our splitting up things. But not in the area of our relationship or anything like that. I mean I did write a letter to her that I didn’t send. And that was really helpful. And then there was a lot of anger that came out in that letter for sure, towards her for sure, yeah.
Marc: Are your parents still alive?
Patrick: My parents are still alive.
Marc: Are you close with them?
Patrick: We’re pretty close. They live here in town and we get to see each other and they’re good grandparents and stuff. I mean I think we’re… go ahead.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah, go.
Patrick: I was just going to say that, in general, my family culture is we’re not really very…we don’t get in touch with our feelings very much. That was not something that we did. Growing up, we were very like…yeah, like my dad was not like the type of person that I could share how I was feeling in general. It was more like we always pretended to be happy and sort of humorous. We’re very humorous kind of family kind of thing.
Marc: So how did your mom get along with your ex?
Patrick: Not well. I mean my parents, in general, didn’t. But yeah my mom—well, I mean my mom is a pretty passive, very nice person in general and my ex kind of allowed—I mean she kind of took advantage of a lot of people. She was sort of a manipulative person in general. So, yeah, they didn’t get along in general, I guess would answer that question. Yeah.
Marc: So if I asked your mom why she would think you would have such a pain, what might she say?
Patrick: I guess I really do feel bad about that situation with my parents. I alienated them a lot, actually. Maybe she would say that she understands, that she knew that I was trying to make the relationship work on some level, and that I’m holding too much again. I guess that’s what I keep feeling like I’m holding a lot of emotions down. I’m repressing a lot of emotions. That’s I guess what she would say.
Marc: Yeah. Just so you know, I’m asking these questions, I’m trying to ask you questions that, to me, help me gather as much information as possible in a short amount of time. And oftentimes, the people closest to us have some interesting insights. I’m not going to say they’re always accurate. I’m not going to say they’re accurate at all. They could absolutely hit the bull’s eye or not. But I just find—I’m always curious about what the people closest to us are seeing.
How about your dad? What would your dad say if I ask him the question, “Hey why did your son, Patrick, have this phantom pain? What do you think?”
Patrick: I don’t know if he would say anything. It’s hard to think of my dad actually having an idea about that, in general. But he would probably think that it was something biological, that I needed to get more testing done on or something. I guess he’s more of a traditional guy.
Marc: Yeah, yeah. And are you married now? Are you in a relationship now?
Patrick: I’m married now, yeah.
Marc: And what does your wife think of all this? Like what’s her take on it?
Patrick: She’s definitely like agitator. She’s a therapist herself. And she’s pushed me to do a lot of personal work in general. And I would say that she probably—I mean, she, in general, was pushing me to stick up for myself a lot in that relationship when we first met. And that was when I was still kind of dealing with a lot of those issues around my daughter and that relationship. And I think she would just say that it has to do with me not sticking up for myself in general and telling her how I feel and how she manipulates people and things like that. I think that’s what she would say.
Marc: Interesting. How does that land for you when she says that?
Patrick: I think she’s right on, in general. I mean she’s the type of person that tells it like it is usually. And even though it’s hard to hear, she’s usually right, my wife, as far as those things go. I mean I think, in general, through the training as well, I found that I do need to step into my masculine in a lot of ways. I’m kind of like a more passive person that I kind of let things kind of slide a lot of ways, so I don’t know.
Marc: What gets you the most pissed off in life, in general, like in any given month? A thing that would piss you off the most is?
Patrick: That might really piss me off…I’m just drawing a blank right now. But it’s usually my kids, in general. It’s usually that they don’t—it really pisses me off when I cook something and I put a lot of effort into it. I try to make it really healthy and all that stuff and they’re sort of like they don’t want it. And they’re not really being very honest about it. They’re trying to like be nice to me and everything. And that’s pretty upsetting. That pisses me off. That’s hard to be regulated when that happens, yeah.
Marc: Yeah. What pisses you off most or one of the things that pisses you off most in your marriage these days? Like when do you get mad at your wife?
Patrick: I guess it is that, when she’s pushing me to change. And if she sees an area where I’m not stepping up and then I’m feeling like I’m fine, I’m doing fine. I don’t need to change. I don’t have anything pressing. Or I feel like I’m working on my stuff at my own pace and she likes to kind of push me a little further along. I usually get pretty defensive at first and we might argue or something. And then later on like kind of see where she was going and I start to change. At first, it’s usually a lot of anger and sort of that’s my first defense in that area.
Marc: So, Patrick, I’ve got some thoughts here. I can keep asking questions and gathering more information. But I personally think we’re in the right neighborhood here…
Marc: …just in terms of just some of the things you’ve been sharing and some of my thoughts. So I would just like to kind of put together what’s going on in my mind right now.
Marc: And see if that’s interesting for you or can move you forward in some way in general. And forgive me for saying things that you might already know. But I think, in general, it’s so helpful when we are respecting our symptoms, plain and simple. When we’re listening to them, when we’re paying attention to them, because this symptom has your attention. If I had a pain in the head, that’s going to get my attention. If I had heart palpitations, that’s going to get my attention. If I have stomach issues, that’s going to get my attention. If I have a pain in my groin or in my nuts, that’s going to get my attention.
Marc: So life has a way of getting our attention. And oftentimes that happens through the body. So here it is, it’s happening in a part of you, in a part of us men that, for goodness sakes, represents our manhood. It’s like what more represents our manhood than our groin area, than our reproductive area. That’s where the action is.
Marc: So, to me, what I’m interested in, at the end of the day, so far, you’ve done your due diligence. Hey, I’m looking at my diet. Hey, I’ve gotten all these tests. Hey, I’ve really looked at biologically, metabolically, chemically, what could be going on. And if you’ve been able to check things off, then, to me, what’s left is that there’s some inner work to do, which even if the inner work doesn’t take away the pain, at least you ended up doing some good inner work.
Marc: And probability-wise, there is a darn good chance that the inner work that we do can help unwind a symptom like this. Because in my experience—and it’s not just me, I’m speaking on behalf of the entire field of psychosomatic disorders and psychology and challenges. We manifest symptoms in the body that have an emotional and personal component. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a good thing. It’s just life is letting us know here’s a place to work.
I personally believe, based on what you shared about your parents, based on what you’ve said about yourself, based on some of the feedback you’ve gotten from your present wife, that it probably does have a lot to do with your relationship to the masculine, your relationship to being you as a man, whatever that means for you.
Marc: And what that means for you is an interesting exploration.
Marc: Because, ultimately, it’s your exploration. You could take my feedback. You could take your wife’s feedback. You could take anybody’s feedback. But ultimately, you’re the general manager of this situation. And you have to start to put things together such that, even though you’re collecting data and you’re getting help, this is your process.
So, to me, this is all about—yeah, it’s about emotions. It’s about anger. It’s about you saying how you really feel. It’s about you taking the next step and the next step and the next step to stepping into your kinghood, your manhood, again, whatever that means for you. What I want to suggest to you—you said you were 39 now?
Patrick: Yeah, about to be.
Marc: About to be 39, okay so you’re right in the zone. You’re right in the close-to-40 zone where I will say from experience that for men and women, there’s a certain voice that starts to come out at around 40. Who is it? Henry James, a famous writer said, “A writer finds his or her voice at 40.” Humans find a different part of our voice at 40.
So, to me, you’re sprouting your voice. When I say your voice, I mean you. I mean how you really see it, how you really feel regardless of anybody’s opinion. You’ve probably been a good boy. So if in your family anger’s not good, joking around is good, niceness is good, then you get rewarded from being good.
Marc: You don’t get rewarded for being bad. Bad could mean angry, mean, could mean being a jerk. It could mean saying things that piss people off. Or it could mean raising your hand when somebody’s acting out of line and demonstrating bad behavior and nonsense behavior, and you go, “Hey, not acceptable,” however you do that. I think the challenge is you haven’t had a lot of experience being messy with your emotions. Meaning, it’s not always clean and simple to be angry.
Marc: It doesn’t always come out perfectly logical. It’s not always clean and simple to express you’re upset. It doesn’t always come out really nice and easy. So I’m kind of guessing that you are very much on the right track right now which is I am claiming my manhood and I am defining what manhood means for me. So what I’m wondering for you right now is like when I even say that, when I say that I think you’re defining what manhood means for you, like what manhood might mean for you. Like what does it mean for you?
Patrick: Well, when you mentioned voice, for sure, I feel like I’ve kind of been in the shadows a lot in my professional career for sure. I definitely want to step up and make myself heard, my opinion, my knowledge with my colleagues and within that area for sure. I think just being more present as a father. I think I have been very emotionally absent. I’ve always provided. I’ve always like been a good boy as far as like I go to work and pay the bills and clean the yard and stuff like that. But I think being just more present as a father for my kids, I think that’s kind of—that would definitely be something I would say manhood or stepping into that kingdom, that king role.
But I think, too, is something that’s kind of been calling me lately is like I don’t feel like I have a lot of guy friends in general. I don’t have like—I mean I have some old friends but when I’ve gotten in touch with them, they don’t really seem to be at the same place I am at or it sounds almost like I need someone that I can really be a guy with but at the same time have a good friend kind of that masculine role, even a mentor on some level.
Yeah, I guess, I don’t know if that was more what you’re looking for. But I’m trying to answer what you’re looking for. But that’s what I’m thinking what manhood would be for me.
Marc: Yeah, I love that. I love that. I think it really hits the target in so many ways. It’s for you starting to see, in a very linear way, okay, what does manhood mean for me and what action does that then requires that I take to step into my man-ness more and more. To step into being a good man in this world.
And when I say good man, I don’t mean nice man. I mean good man. I mean effective man. Because oftentimes what happens to men at this day and age, we’re trained to be so freaking soft and we’re trained to be politically correct and we’re trained to be nice and we’re trained to be good guys. And a good man gets pissed off at injustice. A good man gets pissed off at lies. A good man gets pissed off at stupidity when it’s hurting people. A good man raises his hand when he sees a wrong being committed. A good man isn’t afraid to piss someone off in the name of helping them step into a better place in themselves and correct their mistakes and to grow out of their unconsciousness. So being a good present father, yeah, it might mean being there for your kids and playing with them. And it might mean raising your hand and getting pissed off when they’re not appreciating something that you’re doing and you go, “Hey, listen, here’s why I’m mad right now.”
Marc: “I just did this, this and this and this but you’re not appreciating it. So you could be cooking your own food or you could not even be eating. Because I’m the guy that paid for this, cooked it, and put it on the table. So here’s what I would like you to do, children. Here’s what would make me feel good about this right now.” So it’s okay for you to set boundaries. So I would really love for you to start keeping some kind of running journal.
Marc: So you could see the specifics about stepping into my manhood needs. It means finding more men friends or a man friend that supports me where I’m going. How do you do that? You keep your eyes open. Maybe you’ll find a coach. Maybe you’ll find a mentor. It’s fine to have a paid friend.
Marc: Oftentimes, that’s what the therapist is, that’s what a counselor is, that’s what a coach is. No problem with that.
Marc: We don’t always have time to make new friends, find new friends, find the right friends. So if you can afford it and if it’s worth it for you, I love the idea. Especially if your therapist is a woman, I would want to see you have more men in that role. Because your wife is already being a therapist. She’s already playing that role.
Marc: I would love to decommission your wife a little bit more from her therapist role with you. Yeah, let her be a wife to you. It’s her prerogative to raise her hand and say, “Honey, you got to do this better.” So I would be very attentive to what she has to say. But at the same time, understand that she’s not your therapist.
Marc: You follow me?
Marc: Because if you let her have that role, she will gladly take it because she’s probably good at it. But what’s going to happen is it’s going to depolarize both of you more. Because you’re going to feel like you have to listen, like that’s your therapist and it’s not your wife.
Patrick: I see. Yeah.
Marc: You follow what I’m saying? It could be a bit depolarizing sometimes. So I want to see you being able to do a lot of your work outside of your wife being a therapist for you. You follow me? And I want you to bring more of your manhood into the relationship more and more without her telling you how to do it.
Marc: Am I making sense?
Patrick: Yeah. Yeah.
Marc: So what would that mean to you? If you were bringing more of your manhood into your current relationship, what might that look like?
Patrick: I guess, in general, not always looking for permission to do just about anything. I think that’s something that happens. But I feel like I am stepping out of that a lot more now. Doing that more for sure. Yeah, I guess that’s what I would think. I mean I guess sexually too kind of making that more…I guess me being more director, I don’t know, not forceful or anything. But being more masculine in that way too, I guess, that would be something.
Marc: Do you think she would like that?
Patrick: I do. I do think she would like that. Yeah.
Marc: Yeah. Think of it as dancing. The man leads.
Marc: It doesn’t mean a woman can’t lead. But traditionally, man leads. So it’s nice to be able to have that skill in relationship where you’re at least doing that equal. Otherwise, it’s going to feel a little bit depolarized. It’s fine. Somebody’s got to lead in the dance. If you’re dancing as a couple, somebody’s got to lead.
And there’s got to be times when you are feeling your leadership. There’s got to be times when she’s feeling your leadership. By her trying to help you, my guess is that’s what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to help you step into your leader role in life. I’m not just talking about physically, intimately in relationship but just in everything.
This is about you being the captain of your own ship. And I see you doing that. I see you claiming that. You’re figuring it out as you go along, which is very honorable. It’s not easy to do because, again, we are often raised in a world and in a culture that is masculinizing women and de-masculinizing men. It’s over-masculinizing a lot of women. It’s over-feminizing a lot of our men. That’s my observation.
Patrick: Right. Okay.
Marc: I’m just in support of us having both polarities in our pocket. Yeah, be able to be in your feminine, but be able to be in your masculine as well. Super important. So part of that is I think also beginning to trust yourself more. Plain and simple just trusting yourself and understanding that you’re not trying to fix you right now. There’s a piece of you I think that’s trying to fix something in you. Feels a little broken. It feels to me like you’re coming to the table with some guilt like just feels like there’s guilt in the system here.
Marc: I’m just saying my felt sense over here, oftentimes, guilt is packaged with anger on the other side. Sometimes they’re two sides of a coin where I feel guilty because this, this, and this. I didn’t show up this way. I should’ve done this. I shouldn’t have done that. I wish I was more this. I wish I was more that. But on the other side of guilt is often, but I’m angry at this, but I’m angry at that. And the two don’t always communicate with one another.
Marc: So what I’m asking you to notice sometimes is where you slip into guilt. I’m not good enough. I’m not who I should be. I got to fix this.
Instead the subtle shift is, I’m a guy and I’m on my journey and I’m learning how to do this better and better. As opposed to, I’m broken and I screwed up. It doesn’t mean you’re not looking to make things better. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to correct mistakes that you might have made in the past and the present. But what it means is you kind of just, I don’t know, let yourself off the hook a little bit more.
Marc: How does that land for you when I say that, like what happens for you?
Patrick: I would say it’s pretty on target for sure. I am pretty self-attacking especially when things start to go wrong. I’m definitely a perfectionist on a lot of levels, especially since you’re training that I’ve truly tried to work on that and be more self-compassionate and catch myself as I—my first inclination is to say, “You stupid idiot,” or whatever I usually say or blurt out or get angry at myself with. It’s usually more of self-attack. Whenever I get angry, it’s usually more self-attack than anything.
Marc: Yeah. And that will, for a man, de-masculinate us. It will de-masculinate us. Think of it this way, if you and I were hanging out and we’re sitting at a restaurant and I pay the bill and I wrote the wrong amount on the check. And I thought to myself, “Oh my God, I’m an idiot,” and I started hitting myself in front of you. That would look embarrassing to you. You would think, “What’s this guy doing?” That’s a completely ineffective strategy to deal with a mistake he just made. He’s beating himself up for making a mistake. It kind of looks and sounds silly, because it is.
It is not a king’s response. It is not a man’s response. It is more of a wounded boy’s response. It’s a wounded animal’s response. When we’re coming from wound, we will tend to regulate our system by self-attacking. Makes no sense. But that’s a wound, it’s a misperception of how reality works. Reality doesn’t work by you making a mistake, me making a mistake, and then banging our head against the wall as a way to correct the mistake. It doesn’t look so good.
Patrick: It makes sense.
Marc: Yeah. So, to me, you’re learning how to regulate your own kingdom better. This is the beginning of your kingdom, it’s the body. Body is the first kingdom. So your body doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be a king. You could be a wounded king, that’s fine. You could be a wounded warrior, that’s fine. You got a wound right now, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean you’re not a man. It doesn’t mean you’re not on your king program. It just means you got a wound and you’re tending to it.
Marc: So there’s a shift there that wants to happen. You’re not this wounded boy trying to fix yourself, you’re a wounded man tending to your wounds.
Marc: So you already are a man. You’re getting it a little bit.
Marc: You already are a man.
Patrick: I’m already a man, okay.
Marc: You’re already a man. There are things in our heads that has us believed otherwise. So what you’re doing right now, to my mind, from my standpoint of my own journey as a man watching other men, really being observant about the different life stages. You are a king in training right now. You’re a late prince. You’re a king in training.
King in training means we ascend the throne. You ascend the throne. The throne isn’t given to you. Here Marc. Here Patrick. Here Bob. Here Joe. Here’s your throne. Here’s all your power. Here’s your kingdom. Here’s all these people following your orders. Here’s all these things working perfect.
No. We have to make that happen. Okay, so it’s not given to us. There’s no pill. There’s no button to push. We ascend the throne and the way we do that is by doing what you’re doing, which is what’s right in front of you. By handling the challenge that’s in front of you, that’s the next step to ascend the throne.
So you’re dealing with a phantom pain that’s just raising its hand and going, “Yo, dude, something’s up here.” To me, again, you’ve wisely assessed, this has to do with me being a man. So now you’re defining what that is. You’re exploring what that is. And you’re looking to gather support because that’s what a smart man does. He gathers support in heading where he wants to head. No lone cowboys here.
Marc: It’s all about you amassing support. This is you amassing support. Reaching out and going “Hey, yeah, I’d love a session. I’d like to do this.” That’s more support.
Marc: That’s being a smart king. When good kings are in trouble, they band together.
Marc: When good kings are in trouble, they talk to one another. “Hey, what do you think? What should I do? What’s your opinion? Do you have anybody you could recommend?,” all that kind of thing.
Patrick: Right. Okay.
Marc: So good kings, good men talk to one another. They support one another. I want to say one other piece here that I want you to think about for now. And that is that there’s a place where, in order to step into—and I’m speaking as a man now, same applies to women. In order to step into our manhood—or for women, in order for us to step into our womanhood—we have to step out of our parents’ house. The longer I’m in my parents’ house, so to speak, the more I’m their child.
The moment I step out of my parents’ house, I am less their child because they’re not telling me what to do, when to go to sleep, when to wake up, what to eat, when to brush my teeth, you forgot to brush your teeth. So as soon as we leave the parents’ house, we are starting to individuate. What happens is, is a lot of us walking around in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, we still live in our parents’ house. Emotionally energetic. I’m still trying to please my mother, please my father, please my parents and being a good boy. So a part of us is living there.
Marc: It’s your rules now. It’s your rules about how life is, how your kingdom goes. Yes, you’re in negotiation with your queen, with your wife, but you’re the king.
Marc: So I want you to start to notice the places where you fall into being a son in the world.
Marc: Because there’s a part of you walking around being a son, being a boy. And that’s fine because there’s always going to be a boy in you and you’re always going to be your parents’ son whether they’re alive or not.
Marc: So you’re a son. You’re also a husband. You’re also a father. So you have a lot of archetypes in you. But I want you to notice that you want to live more in your manhood. Part of that’s noticing where you’re living in your boyhood more.
Marc: Which means you have to look at your wife more and more as a woman, as your wife, and not your mother. Which is why I mentioned that thing about, yes, I want you to take her advice for sure. But I don’t want her to be your therapist. I don’t want to have her in that role. It’s different having your woman give you feedback than playing the role of your therapist. It’s going to force her to be a mother, which is going to force you to be a son, which is going to make you both unhappy in the long term.
Marc: Are you with me here?
Patrick: I see what you’re saying, yes.
Marc: Yeah. So how are you doing? What are you thinking? What’s going on for you?
Patrick: No, a lot of what you’re saying, I mean, it’s all resonating with me. I definitely, on a lot of levels, are still there. I mean I thank God that my wife was there for me in so many ways. But I think in a lot of ways she was kind of a mother to me and especially as we’re getting to know each other early on in our relationship.
And yeah, it really is more about stepping into that manhood role for me. I guess I knew that before our talk. But now, this is really reinforcing that because of the way you put it for sure. And also what you said about the lone ranger kind of thing, that hit me pretty hard too. Because I have been kind of going at a lot of things alone and not reaching out for help, gathering the good kings as it were. I’m kind of isolating myself and feeling like I had to do this all by myself kind of thing. So that definitely resonates.
Marc: Yeah. For us men, in the heterosexual universe, women can truly inspire and help men to be better men. At the end of the day, men understand men a little bit differently. And perhaps a little bit better because we’re the same creature. So there’s certain things that women cannot help you with in terms of stepping into your manhood…
Marc: …that only men could help you with because men are men and women are women. You and I as men can help women step more into their womanhood. But there are certain distinctions that only a woman can help a woman with because they’re the same creature and they talk a similar language. So I’m just kind of affirming what we’ve been saying here. And part of it is I want you to see, I want you to think about this a little bit, to have your wife a little less involved in this process of you and this phantom pain. I would love to see you be having half as much conversation with her, if not a quarter as much.
Marc: So to take this off of her plate as something that she has to help you manage or help you take on, I want her to be in a minor advisory role on this.
Marc: I want you to be digging this ditch without her. She can maybe say, “Oh nice looking ditch,” or, “Wow there’s a little bit of dirt over here,” or whatever. But not have her have to get in there and play the role of your guy friend, of your guy mentor. Because what’s going to happen is she’s going to either try to be a guy for you or she’s going to have to be a mother for you or a therapist for you. And it’s not going to allow you to step into that place.
And she’ll do it from a place of love and you’ll do it from a place of love. But what I’m suggesting is, it’s not the right configuration for you to get where you want to go. I want you to be digging a little deeper inside yourself and experience what it’s like to not have a woman to have to rescue you in certain places.
Marc: So take it off of the table that any woman can help you ultimately get to where you want to go. Because for a man, you’re going to help you ultimately get where you want to go. Will you take all kinds of input from men, women, children, animals, God, whoever? Absolutely. You’re happy to take everyone’s input.
But at the end of the day, you got to be driving this car. You have to have the felt sense that there’s not someone else driving the vehicle here. You see where I’m going? That this is yours. You’re owning it. You’re not leaning on her and relying on her to help you fix this. She loves you. She supports you. That’s different from her having to carry you on this. Can you see the distinction I’m playing with here?
Patrick: Yeah, definitely. And she has carried me in a lot of ways. So I know it’s time to carry myself in a way.
Marc: Yeah, absolutely. It’s time for you to be a man with her, which doesn’t mean you’re not still having issues to grapple with. It doesn’t mean you’re not communicating with her. It means you’re being a little bit more circumspect before you share and noticing what you bring to the relationship. I want you to be hesitant because, previously, you’re not hesitant enough. So I want you to be hesitant. I want you to be circumspect, thoughtful about what you share.
Marc: And see is this something I really need to bring into the conversation with her. Is this going to put her in a mommy role? Is this going to put her in fixing-you role? Because if it does, I don’t want her there. She, ultimately, I don’t think wants to be there. Because what she wants is for you to be in your manhood.
Marc: But in order for you to get there, there are certain steps you need to be a little more independent. You got to let some of the old help fall away…
Marc: …which is having the woman, our mother figure, need to fix this. Because as long as she’s functioning like a mother for you, you’re going to stay a son.
Patrick: Yeah. Okay.
Marc: You follow me?
Marc: Okay, I got one more question for you.
Marc: If you are meant to be an improvement of your father, if each generation is meant to be an improvement on the generation before, what are some ways that you can be an improvement in your father, you could advance that lineage? What are some of the ways you could be a better man?
Patrick: I would say I guess expressing my anger in a better, in a more integrative way I guess, or a way that helps me, yeah, express the feelings I need to come up and come out of me. I think that just being more emotionally present, not afraid to speak up about how things are bothering me or how things are making me feel. Let’s see, not really sure…
Marc: You mentioned feelings, you mentioned anger, you mentioned being more present.
Patrick: Yeah. I think that’s the big one, being more present. I see my father always sort of escaping. He always sort of like escapes into the TV or a book or something. I just want to be not afraid to face whatever comes up for myself or for my kids or for…and not always numb it with something.
Patrick: I guess that’s a big one for sure.
Marc: Good for you. That’s a lot right there. That’s a lot. It’s kind of learning to wrestle. It’s learning to grapple with what’s in front of you. Wrestling and grappling is unpredictable. It’s messy. It’s sweaty. People get hurt. And it’s okay. Because we always got to be exchanging and wrestling with life and you haven’t had that kind of role model. So now you’re trying to teach yourself that. And now you’re trying to learn that on the fly. So what I want to say is, really, good for you. And this, Patrick, is hard work.
It is hard work to masculinize ourselves when we didn’t have the kind of upbringing that allowed us to have a healthy balance of masculine and feminine. It is hard to do that. It’s hard for a super masculine man, who has been taught to ignore his feminine, to embrace his feminine. It’s hard to a super feminine man, who has been taught to ignore his masculine, to embrace his masculine. So this is difficult work. If it was easier, we would have done it.
So I think you understand this so it’s not about getting rid of this pain that you have. Sure, we’d like it to go away. Sure, we would love for it to go away. But it only goes away as you graduate. So its raising its hand and saying I’m here for a reason because it’s getting your attention so you can end up having a conversation like this.
Marc: To help you move forward. So in my universe, you are taking every right step and it gets more challenging. But that’s the beautiful challenges for you to rise up to that. So you are ready to go into the grappling and you’re ready to embrace what life is giving you. You’re ready to jump into the fray. You’re ready to get messy. You’re ready to be in a fight. You’re ready to get angry. You’re ready to be loving. All of it. Like my guess is you’re ready to be loving. You’re ready to be sweet. You’re ready to be nice. But you’re not always ready to go, “No, that sucks.”
Patrick: Yeah. I tend to avoid confrontation in general. I don’t like it.
Marc: Yeah. So that’s what you’re slowly changing. So that’s what I see happening. That’s the key to the kingdom to meet here in terms of unwinding your symptom. So I would personally look at not worrying about your symptom, not worrying about the pain in your nuts, so much as you are responding to it by making changes in your life, as an experiment, to see what happens. Because the changes that you’re making make sense. You’re resonating with them. They feel right to you. We’re growing unfolding human beings. And one of the hardest things for a man to do in this world is to step into his manhood. It’s shocking. It’s absolutely shocking.
We live on a planet right now where men are largely disempowered. Yeah, there are men in power who are empowered. But a lot of times the men in power they didn’t earn it. They didn’t get there by good means and good ways. But they’re enjoying wealth and power but actually don’t really have true power. But either way, so many men are left trying to figure out how do I not feel like a slave? How do I not feel disempowered? How do I show up as a man given my life, given my world, given everything? So that’s something we contend with, we grapple with, we ask those questions. That’s a question I ask every day.
Marc: And it never stops. It’s not like, oh, you wake up one morning and you’re there. It’s like, no, you wake up one morning and you’re doing better and you wake up the next morning and you do a little better. And you wake up the next morning and you take two steps back and you wake up the next morning and you take two steps—you know what I’m saying, it’s a little bit of a fluff.
Marc: So my friend I’m really happy for you. I think you’re doing great. I hope you give yourself a little love for how hard you’re working here. And I think there’s some good little nuggets that came out of our time together.
Patrick: Definitely. Thank you very much, Marc. I appreciate it.
Marc: Patrick, I appreciate it also and good luck. And I would listen back to this session and maybe even take some notes for yourself after we get off the line and just see what you wanted to incorporate for yourself. And I really appreciate you being willing to just kind of share you and your process. A lot of people are going to be listening and I think this is a super important topic. So I really appreciate you being generous about what you’re going through and so super honest. So, thank you.
Patrick: Well, thank you for offering this as an opportunity. It was really hard to step up and do it. But I’m so glad I did it.
Marc: Stepping into your manhood.
Marc: Good for you. Patrick, thank you so much.
Patrick: Thanks, Marc.
Marc: And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I am Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, lots more to come my friends. You take care. Bye-bye.
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