Mindful Metropolis — November 2011
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Publisher's Notes

A Personal Victory

Had I not been desperate, there was a slim chance I would have done it. For several years prior, a therapist friend of mine had been urging me to participate.Why is it that the people close to us seem to see the train wreck we are about to become before we do? Regardless, I was pretty sure what would be involved: men in rage, screaming lines from Keats or Shakespeare in the woods, beating drums, talking about the “boys don’t cry” myth. And, God forbid, the dreaded trust fall (a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows him/herself to fall, relying on the others to catch him/her), an exercise in which I had declined to participate at a staff retreat some time in the midlate ’90s. Fortunately, I learned that this is not what Victories of the Heart (VOH) is about.

Desperation prods us to do the most unseemly things. My marriage was a farce. My now ex-wife appropriately told me to take a hike. Subsequently, I had ramped up my substance abuse. That alone had taken just about everything else from me. I had been cloaked in darkness, despair and unhappiness for years. I had sought the advice of professionals, consumed and entire self-help library and pursued a career where I thought I could be most supported. Things only got worse. I made some really bad choices and ended up in rehab. I realized then that the old axiom, “the same mind that created the problem is not the same mind that can fix the problem,” was doubly true in my case. So, I contacted my therapist friend and signed up for a VOH BreakThough Weekend.

Seriously, I was scared to death. I didn’t know what I was scared of exactly, though I made up a whole script in my head. Shame, bad decisions, lack of parental direction, zero role models, ego, fear of losing something— none of this I wanted to face. And, ironically, despite 15-plus years of therapy, I had tactfully evaded or coated most of these issues.What sane man in his mid-late 30s is still reliving boyhood familial interactions? Not me!Well ... I had turned “acting out” into a whole personal lifestyle. Various combinations of my issues played out in every relationship, but most importantly the relationship I had with myself.

VOH was the single most catalyzing experience in getting to my very core. One can only expect pain when opening and cleaning old, festering, jagged wounds. I am convinced we all have them. I had waited until it was almost too late to attend to mine.

As men especially (I have no experience as a woman, so bear in mind my perspective), we tend to operate in isolation. Ego is a huge barrier. Shame, anger, grief and sadness are our Achille’s heels. In a single weekend, VOH tore down my idea of what it was to be a man and laid a new foundation for manhood; for humanity. VOH’s tagline, “transforming the lives of men,” couldn’t possibly be more accurate.

Nearly a decade has elapsed since my initial weekend. I continued with therapy for a bit and am still involved in other groups and personal growth work, but VOH tipped the scales. Do you know a man who might benefit from their work? Do humanity a favor and investigate VOH. You can find more information at victoriesoftheheart.org.

On November 18th, VOH will host their annual benefit, Men Are Funny: A Special Performance by The Second City Improv All Stars, at The Irish American Heritage Center.I assure you, the venue is amazing and the show will be stellar (and funny!). There is no better place to be with kind, nurturing and smart men, their families and loved ones than at this event. Tickets are available at victoriesoftheheart.org/benefit.

Richard McGinnis | Publisher