Friday, 18 June 2010

A Patchwork Heart

I was reminded again how deeply i feel these scars. From time to time someone or something comes along and touches the very heart of you, they get deep inside of you, and rub there hands along the contours of your heart. Maybe its even an animal, a pet, whose paw gently strokes the scars around my heart, And i seem to have so very many. Mostly though for me, it is in Love i feel these scars the most.

These scars started early for me, and i wondered if these wounds would ever heal, gaping wounds that seemed to bleed for ever in my childhood. The victim of extreme abuse, the witness of even worse abuse, and always the scars that they left behind closed doors, unavailable for viewing by the general public.

Being a cripple comes in many forms, and guises. For some it is having no hands, or no arms, no legs or the impairment of movement or some functionality, for me it came not as a bodily dysfunction, but as an emotive one, for my crippling dysfunction was a damaged and patchwork heart.

Of course as anyone who has suffered a dysfunction of any sort will tell you, you either give up or find a way to accommodate it, even celebrate it.Sadly in the case of emotive dysfunction it is an ailment that is difficult to see, and because of this it becomes a forbidden subject. In the same way that some one with a physical disability might notice others shying away from attending to their disability or dysfunction because it makes them feel uncomfortable, so too those with emotional disabilities notice how others react whenever their particular dysfunction becomes apparent.

For men it is a double whammy, as the reality, for good or ill, is that emotive men in western society are perceived with suspicion and distrust, and forced into the box of either being sexually different, or unstable. The reasons for this are probably more to do with the testosterone fueled physical presence of a man, and the need, apparently, to keep in check the emotive passions, so as to demonstrate 'control'. For emotively unstable men are seen as hazards, and of course this can be a very real possibility.

There is also the discomfort that many feel when seeing a grown man cry or emote passionately, it can be very disturbing to see a grown man grow powerfully angry, or weep, often because of a fear for ones own personal safety. So for numerous reasons, Men are kept very much in check emotively unless they are 'effeminate' emotions. The province of the emotions becomes almost an exclusively feminine concern.So what then for those of us who are left emotionally crippled? what then for the powerful heterosexual men who seek to overcome years of formative abuse?

The fact is that the kinds of emotive wounds that are left on a persons heart, whether they be man or woman are often deeply personal and emotionally sensitive. These emotions are not disconnected to the physical nature of a person. In the same way as a deep scar left on your body is sensitive when you run your fingers over it. Maybe it is even uncomfortable because nerves that would in any normal person be distributed subcutaneously, and properly placed, are connected to disparate area's. Further, these scars on the heart may evoke unpleasant memories, or lay too near the surface as the wound has healed, and therefore are sensitive in ways that others may not be. I have learn't to be honest and sincere about these things, and it has enriched my life to do so.

Non effeminate men, are left not only with the work to do to heal those wounds, often with little assistance from an unsympathetic or just plainly ignorant social circumstance, But are further asked to carry the stigma and burden that is accompanied by, not only the dysfunction itself, (which by its nature is 'hidden' or secret) , but also the distrust of others towards powerful emotive men in general. It is a two edged sword, and cuts even further into a heart that is already wounded.

In my case i have had to do 30 years of emotional work in order to heal those wounds. I have what i refer to as a patchwork heart, sown together, and with what sometimes seems as though is made up more of scar tissue than heart. Yet it is functional :)...

The work i have done in putting it back together, is my finest work, and that which i am most proud of without a single shadow of a doubt. For the most part, it has gone unheralded, unnoticed by the public. You see, unlike a physical injury, or disability, it manifests in ways that merely echo to the eye, and you have to be trained, or be sensitive, in order to see it in others. The comparison to healing myself emotionally over those 30 years, and healing myself physically over 7 years after a bad motorcycle accident, is like Everest to a gentle stroll up a local hillside.

Each scar set down leaves its mark. No more so than in the province of Love. It is here i have had to do my hardest and most searing work.It is here also where the deepest scars are set. It is here too, sadly, where my greatest dysfunctions exist.

For i will always be emotionally sensitive, if only because the scars that have been left are so numerous and deep set, that when they are touched they have an effect that is not as it would be for a normal and whole heart person. A patchwork heart, functions differently, As difficult as it is to admit. For every heart wishes to be whole, so as to share itself with other hearts of the same kind. In the admission that this patchwork heart is somehow different, comes the liberation from having to fulfill unrealistic expectations of oneself and of others. In the same way a paraplegic sprinter is freed from having to compete with able bodied sprinters at the Olympics.

I would not say that i have never wallowed in self pity, for i most certainly have had my moments, but never for long, for it is not in me to wallow for long, in that dry and barren wasteland. I am too much of a fighter to do that for long without seeking an alternative or solution, being more inclined to be a fixer...which of course has its own problems. Although of course at times when those scars are touched and my heart is at issue, the emotive sensitivities and sensibilities are such that they express themselves sometimes in a peculiar manner, not dangerous or violent, for i have long left those inappropriate behaviors behind, but emotionally peculiar and intense moments, deeply personal and quite unique...for the uninitiated in the peculiarities of all things Richard, this can be disturbing, and i recognize that, and feel it deeply.

No more so than when i am in love, for i am a passionate and emotional man. This alone would of course be disturbing enough for most people, especially in our western society, but married with the peculiar sensitivities that are associated with the scars on this Patchwork Heart, makes the evocation of the peculiar emotional expressions disorienting and unintelligible for many people. Sadly this precludes me from having almost all intimate loving associations with more normal, and less dysfunctional people, but not all of course.

It does take patience, kindness, and sensitivity in my partners to understand me, but i have learn't that with honesty and integrity loving bonds can be blessed with great happiness, and i have found the joy of shared love with special and significant partners over the years. Years that have made all the emotional work well worth the effort. I also have unique gifts, born from those memories and scars, that richly embellish any loving relationship i enter, and i have learn't to celebrate those greatly also, as have those who have taken the time to get to know me.

Those who have taken the time to get to know me, would realize that, A powerful heterosexual man, who bears his passions and emotions in the full knowledge of the scars on his heart, can be a tender gift. He does not have to be a danger!, if he has done the work to incorporate those emotions into a fully functioning psyche...this is the work i have been doing for 30 years, and i make no apology for being emotional to anyone.

Anger does not mean violence, Sorrow does not mean morbidity, self consciousness does not mean self harm...in other words, one can safely feel emotions, even if one is scared, and not express those emotions in a negative or destructive manner...the expression is a 'CHOICE'...and this was of course a great realization for me many years ago, that the 'behavior' was adaptive and influenced by personal intention. Yet still the world lags behind, and the distrust for emotive men continues, and even further the greater distrust for emotionally scared men who emote.

So when i weep at funerals, or when some beautiful moment touches me deeply and i express myself with joy or tears, I do so with a full heart, a Patchwork heart for sure, but one, that although carries many scars, has no gaping wounds and does not leek but through the full and open and unapologetic expression of a passionate and emotionally sensitive, fully incorporated psyche.

I may not run at the Emotional Olympics, but i am whole...and it has taken me a lifetime of unremitting and often searingly painful work to get to this place, where i may marry this Patchwork heart with a Mind and Soul that does not shy away from showing either the scars or the heart, or the passions and thoughts that flow through them.

For those that wish to take the time to get to know me, they might just be pleasantly surprised, i may not be as others are, or how others wish me to be, how could i be...but i am authentic and sincerely me, and i am whole, and exist, even with this Patchwork heart, with complete integrity.

© Richard Michael Parker 2008

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