Do any of you remember the ‘Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’? It first appeared in 1982 in the U.K- it’s the story of a young, relatively gentle, curious adolescent boy and his struggles with his loving but painfully English parents, a beautiful girl called Pandora Braithwaite and Adrian’s slightly odd experiment with a tube of superglue. I used to relate to his internal world, I felt a sense of familiarity and kinship with him, he made me feel as if I wasn’t alone, that my struggles were somehow normal and that I was going to be alright in the end.
What ever happened to Adrian Mole?
Fast forward 30 years- Adrian Mole is now 46 and in some serious shit. He’s addicted to oxycontin, has male pattern baldness, a flagging libido and an enormous overdraft that keeps him awake at 2:37am. Oh and his second marriage has just collapsed in a painful, jagged, shame filled crap-heap at his feet.
I know a lot of Adrian Moles’.
Contrary to many people’s perception, it is midlife and not adolescence that is the most miserable part of most men’s lives. A recent study in North America found that almost 80% of fatal drug opioid overdoses were men. Why? A number of factors seem to be responsible. Men are more likely to work in dangerous jobs such as law enforcement, construction, mining or forestry where they can incur severe, painful, chronic injuries for which opioids are often too freely prescribed. Men don’t like talking about their pain, emotional or physical and therefore many men are leading lives of quiet desperation with little or no psychosocial support. Most of us have been ruthlessly conditioned by multiple aspects within society to suppress our emotional vulnerability, often with devastating consequences. Many men in midlife seem to be dislocated from any sense of a deeper, more soul congruent meaning and purpose.
We are so myopically habituated to the two dimensional metrics of an antiquated view of masculinity (sexual prowess, power and money) that we are staggeringly stunted when it comes to knowing and owning those parts of the male psyche which do not meet these criteria. The leader of the most powerful nation on earth is just another gross caricature of all that is rotten in the state of masculinity. It is no wonder that so many of us are trying to soothe our fear, confusion and impotent rage with anything that will provide even a brief respite from our suffering and loss of an authentic self.
I am sure there are many pundits who believe that after all the devastation patriarchy and ‘shadow masculinity’ have wrought on the bodies and minds of countless women and children, the environment (not to mention their fellow men), that men deserve to suffer, but surely this perspective offers no healing, no solution which men could work towards in an effort to offer some reparation? Many of us are lost, confused, addicted, wounded shadows of our younger, curious, open hearted and hopeful selves.
It is time for men to rally to another banner, to apply their minds and hearts to a new agenda, to heal the wounds our forefathers ignorance have wrought upon our male psyches. We can no longer hide in our addictions, our misogyny or our fierce greed without devouring and destroying what little remains of the trust we have so brutally assaulted through our institutions such as church and state. The tipping point of no return is near. We can no longer be children who refuse to pack away our toys after a sugar fueled frenzy, its time for us to grow up. It is time for men to stop denying own their pain so that we can stop projecting it onto others and begin to heal- it is our duty now to contribute, protect, innovate and solve some of the immediate, complex, challenges we face as a human race. Before it’s too late.
I’ll get off my pulpit now.
Do I hear a hallelujah?