One Memorable Men's Group
by Bill Whitesell
Throughout the Convention, our mens group had been charged
with heart-felt communications amidst the sharing of fundamental
personal concerns. The last mens group, which took place
just before the IPA Annual Meeting, began living up to that promise.
But one man had walked out without a word in the middle of the
meeting, and as we approached the end, some of us saw him pacing
on the grass just outside. We decided to coax him back in.
He entered the room and then immediately threw himself onto
the floor and began howling with anger and hurt. He used no words,
so we couldnt guess what had provoked the intense feelings.
We just gave him space and listened. However, the man who had
been speaking just before the other returned to the room, now
got up and left. A moment later, while still witnessing the howls
of the first man on the floor, we could hear the second one also
begin raging in the small room adjoining ours.
Our times up, someone said. The Annual
Meetings about to start. Several of us wanted to attend
the Annual Meeting. Its important that we support
the organization that makes this possible, said another.
But how could we possibly bring this mens group to a
graceful end? We had expressed such care and love for each other
throughout the week that we had spent together. Would it now all
come to an end with any closure? Without any validation of what
it had meant to us? Would we leave in such a disturbed state,
with feelings of anger, rejection, and despair left unresolved?
Suddenly, the man raging in the next room returned. He said
his feelings had been hurt and he now wanted us to leave him alone.
He curled up by himself in a corner.
The man who had been howling on the floor now began to speak
and told us what had upset him. He had been disappointed when
he saw the expression of feeling in our group become undermined
by intellectual diversions. He felt that we would get into some
emotional sharing from the heart, but then just let it become
shunted away by more trivial communications from the head.
Another man then spoke up to defend the expression of intellectual
thoughts as well as emotions. Are we just going to rule
out a whole area of life? Are we going to have a rule that some
things can be said here but others cannot? I for one wouldnt
care for a group organized like that.
The Annual Meeting has now started, another said.
We really have to end.
How could we? We appeared to be more divided than ever. Some
of us looked at each other, wondering how to escape the prospect
of a sour farewell. This mens group had been so good, caring
and supportive. But it seemed to me that we were now splintered
by our separate hurts, our divergent views. Did it have to end
in this acrimony?
In that pause, the moment turned. The man who had withdrawn
decided to return to the group, saying he wanted to reestablish
harmony. The man on the floor confessed that he felt better, having
expressed his anger, the truth of his feelings; now, he wanted
to be closer to us. And the defender of intellectual communications
said he felt satisfied at having been able to express his views.
We were ready to move on.
We looked at each other a moment, and then all stood up, stepped closer, and
locked arms around each others shoulders and backs. We began swaying back
and forth, looking into each others eyes without any words. It seemed
to me that we were of one mind, sensing the miracle of our coming together.
We felt the freedom we had shared in expressing our inner truths. We had allowed
ourselves and each other to be different, unique, even disruptive. And we knew
the binding power of our tolerance of emotional distances and divergent points-of-view.
We were all accepted. It had indeed been a healing process. And now I saw the
care and warmth we felt for one another in the relaxed, unforced smiles on our
faces. Over just a few days, we had received so much of each other. And we could
at last depart knowing that those precious shared moments would continue working
their healing powers within us.
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