Over a half million people read my post yesterday on overcoming violence. Almost all of the women understood immediately. Quite a large number of men did not, and believed I should have resorted to violence in my story. Many expressed their hate and contempt for my childhood abuser.
Women seem to naturally gravitate into groups who discuss issues. Perhaps it’s the oxytocin; their stress hormone permitting them to relax under stress. Perhaps it’s why their reflex is to “tend, mend or befriend,” (in general, with exceptions), whereas men “fight, flee or freeze” (in general, with exceptions).
Women seem to intuitively know how to nurture, repair and support each other. Men rarely discuss their issues; we fight them silently, we flee their discussion, or we become catatonic and cannibalized by them. We don’t talk like women, and it often - indirectly but inevitably - kills us.
I have the honor of training amazing men: surgeons, pilots, emergency rescue first responders, agents and operators. They must occupationally have ice water in their veins to remain cool and in complete control in a crisis; all the while their hormonal system acts as if a saber tooth is chasing them down.
The same is true of all of the incredible survivors of abuse, trauma and violence I have had the privilege of training: the exact chemical cocktail remains trapped within them. Where do those chemicals go? They embed and devour muscle, bone, sinew and organs.
We don’t talk about the feelings within us. And we become chemically emotional time-bombs. Hate is holding on to a hot coal which you want to throw at another; it only burns your own hand. You got to let it out, brothers.
Many turn to booze, drugs, and sexual infidelity, if not violence to others and themselves. We lose really good men; many brothers (and even some sisters) we could have saved, if we’d just have reached out a hand, helped them put down the bottle and dragged them along with us to a good grappling class.
Get in some garage, office or basement grappling with some good friends. Jiujitsu - or any type of resistance against a partner in wrestling, sambo, judo, taichi, wing chin, etc - reflects what anthropologists have identified in every survivable culture: less-than-lethal ritualized combat to cooperatively tell a physical narrative of surviving violence. (So what if you don’t know what you’re doing at first? Who does? You’re just doing this for the release, not to be a super-ninja.)
This behavior has a very specific biological purpose; validly represented across almost all mammals. It processes out the toxic chemistry of violence. If you’ve faced a life crisis, hostile collision or tragic calamity, you need support, and an outlet to eliminate the chemistry which gets stored in your tissue.
This is why the average lifespan of a firefighter, soldier or police officer is 54, and the number one killer is stress-related disease. For most men, and some women, there is no outlet to allow the largest organ in your body — your skin, whose purpose is elimination — to excrete the toxicity stored within you from having experienced trauma.
If you limit your choices to only those thins which seem obvious, you remove yourself from what potentially truly need: connection and release. I can’t give you a sure fire formula for healing the violence you’ve experienced and perhaps had to do in kind, but I can give you a formula for continuing to perpetuate it within and upon yourself, and killing yourself by it: Try to deal with this all alone by thinking your way out of it.
Wrestle. And if possible, eat a good, clean meal together; skip the beer. Start a fire pit in your yard and sit and relax. Then, if you’re game, share some of your backstory and history. Why did you enjoy this so much? As mature men, we can disclose to each other. Bind together. End the cycle of self-destruction. Become a brotherhood, and heal together.