The Space Between
When what was true yesterday is no longer true.
Want to know the most dangerous place on Earth for a man? It’s not the prison yard. It’s not fishing off the coast of Alaska. Hell, it’s not even war.
The most dangerous
place for a man
is the space between
chapters of his life.
Now before you close out this article because you know what I’m about to talk about is internal and emotional rather than external and physical, please give it a few more lines…
Most humans will
a day when everything
that was true
the day before is
no longer so.
And that day breaks us. Especially us men.
You’re free to Google suicide statistics around breakups and divorce. You’re free to look at addiction rates, homicidal tendencies, and anything else related to men specifically having to navigate changes in their lives that they didn’t want, expect, or prepare for.
We simply don’t often survive when one door opens and the next door hasn’t appeared in front of us yet. Truly, this is a quiet, insidious killer of men.
I am here to tell you that you can survive this, and in some way I hope you’re experiencing it right now so that I can tell you exactly how to do it.
of the pause
when things fall apart
Years ago, I remember sitting in my newly-found divorce attorney’s office and having her ask me the dreaded question I’d gotten so many times before, “Wow, what the heck happened here?”
I was a mix of numb, panic, and shock after my ex-wife left with an hour’s notice.
“I honestly don’t know,” I replied. “I had no idea this was coming.”
In hindsight, the signs were there but that’s for another time.
Fast forward a year. I was back in her office signing final documents and telling her how I’d purposefully stayed sober, single, and gotten into lots of therapy. What she said not only surprised me, but now thousands of male clients and two books later I have found to be a key piece of putting together the man puzzle -
“Good for you,” she said. “I’m glad you took some space. Most men who come into my office are dating their next wife within 90 days of the last one leaving. It’s no wonder those second marriages don’t last.”
Ninety days. Think about that. Think about where you truly are emotionally less than three months following a devastating loss. I don’t know about you but I wasn’t within a country mile of authentically being with any other human being at that time. I was still caught up in the storm of my own life.
Let’s be honest - those guys that jump into relationships aren’t ready either, but they feel like they have to do something.
Can you relate?
The feelings of heartbreak, fear, and anxiety are too much for them to bear so they have no other choice but to run out and find an emotional bandaid — something to take their minds off of their pain and soothe their egos.
What they end up
any other way
than being face down
at rock bottom.
If you’re in the shit right at this moment, I want you to try something. An experiment of sorts. Pause. Don’t run. Don’t hide. Don’t bob and weave. Just sit still. No big plans. No grand gestures.
Just sit in the shit and let it work on you. Let yourself marinate. Let what you thought to be true, not be true…and let that be ok.
Your instinct here is going to be to make the pain go away. Your highest calling is going to ask you to be with yourself. Be with your hurts. And to do all of this, not because you’re some kind of masochist, but rather because you know there is knowledge, insight, and high-quality learning that you can’t get anywhere else than where you are right now.
Breathe. Pause. Feel. No matter how uncomfortable it may be.
go it alone
No one can walk your path for you. No one can do your work for you. No one can get you from the pain you’re in to the other side.
And yet you are not meant to do this journey all on your own.
Isolation kills more men than smoking and we know in our guts that our initial instinct when things go wrong is to find ourselves a cave and ride it out, isn’t it? It’s to wallow in our own misery so we don’t burden anyone else with our humanity.
It’s also to save face. To not show ourselves in public gatherings and bare the whispers we know are happening behind our backs when people see us.
For almost a year of my life, all I wanted to do was go to work, come straight home, and lock myself in my newly acquired studio apartment. I didn’t want to see anyone, answer any questions, or spend any more time sharing what was going on.
And yet, sharing my deep pain saved my life more than once. I highly recommend you do the same.
One of my co-teachers
Michael Gay, says,
“Some things are
just too big
and heavy to be
Let that one land. We’re not meant to deal with tragedy all on our own. Our systems aren’t designed for it no matter how many times we’ve binged watched Rambo or Commando.
When Micheal says this, we’re usually at the Uncivilized Men’s Initiation and he’s got twenty-five men standing in a circle around him. He’ll soon invite a man into the center of the circle and let go of something he’s often been carrying for decades.
That thing may be the pain of a divorce, childhood sexual trauma, or the loss of a loved one. It’s often THE THING that’s tearing that man apart from the inside. It’s the cause of his addiction or the reason he actively struggles to keep the barrel of a gun out of his mouth.
I shit you not, when that man leaves the circle a few minutes later — unburdened — he is a different man. His shoulders are down, his face seems to have reverse aged 15 years, and there’s a light in his eyes that wasn’t there prior. He’s free.
But mostly, he knows in his bones — he’s no longer carrying this thing alone.
Your job here, my brother, is not to bleed your pain all over your loved ones. It’s not to force yourself and your situation into everyone’s lives. Yet it’s equally not yours to keep to yourself, internalize, and suffer in silence.
Find a few good men. Find a group. Find us in The Uncivilized Nation.
Find someone, and let them walk with you for a few steps from time to time, carrying a bit of your weight.
I know a number of you just whispered, “Go fuck yourself” when reading that heading. But take a moment and hear me out.
If your pain is now your teacher, your guide, and your guru, how can you learn from it, grow with it, and let it expand you — if you’re numb to it?
Imagine sitting in the front row of the most important class of your life with blindfolds on and noise-canceling headphones.
Feel me on this, one?
I get it, this pain is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Or worse, the pain is gone and you’re left with nothing but a feeling of emptiness, aloneness, or ambiguity. Sometimes no pain is worse than pain itself because there’s nothing to direct your hate towards; nothing acute to keep you focused. You feel like you’re life is now just a barren wasteland.
Go back to the first part of this piece and reread the power of the pause if so.
Space is terrifying for us men, isn’t it? We’d rather suffer than have no feeling, yet we spend so much of our time and energy numbing ourselves into that very state of nothingness. Here’s what drinking, smoking, fucking, etc. is doing to you during this vital time in your life:
there’s a room in your
home where your
deepest truths lie.
Where the holy texts
of your life are there
waiting for you after
you blow the dust off
of a foot locker in
Every time you walk down the hallway towards this door, you start to feel uncomfortable, anxious and terrified of the space in front of you. You shiver at the lack of the lack of color, flavor, and texture of the hallway.
Thus right before you reach your courageous hand out to open the door of this room, you stop, crack a beer, turn around and walk back right to where you started.
Brother, all of your vices will be waiting for you at the end of your journey. You’re welcome to reintroduce them into your life in a more conscious manner if you choose to do so. But they will and they do stop your growth right in its tracks. Get rid of them and see what’s on the other side of that door.
Stay sober. If that seems impossible to you, even more reason to do so.
Stand in sacred ground
Our lives are a tapestry of peaks, valleys, climbs, and falls, each equal in value and attribution to the others. Yet we’re told, taught, and modeled that we should only strive for the good. The good should be the goal.
We hop ourselves up on energy drinks and Gary V videos and get after it. We have our affirmations and our mantras, our No Fear stickers on our cars, and our complete disregard for the fact that the heavens can only be heard in the terrible silence between chapters.
So my brothers, listen to it. Bless the quiet times, no matter how laced they are with gut-wrenching pain or terrifying quiet.
If you find yourself between chapters, recognize you are not alone. You are supported and you do have agency.
The most powerful decision you make at this moment is to be in it. To run nowhere and hide behind nothing. Instead to close your eyes, tap into the warrior in your chest, feel deeply into your heart, and be still.
The space between chapters is sacred ground. Walk upon it with reverence.
What was true yesterday is no longer true for you. And that’s a beautiful thing for now you get to build the rest of your life upon new truths.
Here’s to them. And to you.
The UNcivilized Nation is THE group of men who are finished perpetuating the lone wolf ideology of masculinity and choosing instead to adopt the UNcivilized Ethos. They are the team of men leading the charge and choosing to support each other. I’d love for you to join them if you are a man.
If you are not, I’d love for you to ask ONE MAN in your life to become a part of this movement.
Please click the button below for more information on how to become a part of my community of extraordinary men.
Join The Nation and Find your tribe
Unplug from the “civilized” paradigm and take control of your life.
Start here: Get your free copy of the UNcivilized Ethos now.
Step 2: Get your copy of my new book: Man UNcivilized.
Step 3: Join your brothers in The UNcivilized Nation today.