Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Behind Every Raunchy Behavior Is a Tender Feeling
I had him imagine peeking into different rooms and seeing different parts of himself.
There, in that room, is the part that was about to go get the erotic massage last Saturday. What can you tell by looking at him? What was he feeling like? What did he really need?
There, in the next room, is the part of you that feels wise, spiritual, peaceful.
And in the next, the part of you that loves to play with the grandkids, drink milkshakes, and could just lay in bed in the morning and listen to the birds sing. The kid in you.
In another room, the part of you that exerts himself and carries heavy things and takes on the most physically taxing things that needs to be done.
Invite them all out into the main room, the one you're in, and have them sit around this large circular table. Let them know that this one part of you is particular need of their help. It's the part who can get feeling like sex is the only answer.
Is every other part of you willing to help by taking a sledgehammer and breaking down the wall that keeps that part of you isolated and alone? We need to turn the room he gets stuck in, with its cement walls and a metal door, into an alcove. He needs to be able to access the rest of you in the future when he's in need. His view of the rest of you may get obscured back in this recessed part of the room, but he need never be truly alone again.
Paul's imaginary parts cooperated and tore down the wall. Then I had him open his eyes and talk about it. His reaction to this little exercise surprised me.
"I had tender feelings. I wanted to cry. They (the other parts of himself) really cared and wanted to help."
"I recognized during that imagery that something I went through last week was harder than I had realized at the time. Strong feelings came up when you had me imagine the hard-working, physically exerting part of myself. Last Wednesday afternoon I worked my tail off replacing a fence post. My wife didn't even seem to care. I opened up the blinds in the bedroom the next day and said, 'Have you seen my handiwork from yesterday? Check out that fence post.' She was totally distracted. 'Oh, yeah. Wow.' Meant nothing to her. I wanted to take a minute and celebrate that."
Then Paul looked embarrassed. "But I can't tell her that. Blame her for my lapse."
"She's not to blame for your lapse," I suggested. "But burying your feelings not advocating for yourself might have contributed to your vulnerability. What if you had handled it differently: You open the blinds, she doesn't give it much notice, and you say, 'Let's try that again. Lillian celebrating Paul's hard work, take two... Ta-da!"
"Yeah, she would have laughed and come over and hugged me and admired it."
"Even if she hadn't, you would have felt better for acknowledging and honoring what you felt you needed. That must be an important love language for you: words of affirmation."
Paul's face was reddening. "Why is that so important to me."
"Don't know, but it seems pretty genuine."
Paul Nodded. "I need to be more aware of these feelings when they happen, instead of five days later when you drag them out of me."
"Don't put me out of a job too quickly," I said with a wink.
Were those tender feelings Paul had on Thursday even a part of what led him to act out sexually on Saturday? I'm not sure. Unacknowledged disappointments sometimes evaporate on their own. Too often, however, they don't, distilling instead into resentment, which prompts detachment, which becomes fertile ground for urges and cravings to take root.
The title of this post took the idea too far. Not every raunchy urge is preceded by a tender feeling. Sometimes it's simply time of day the brain is used to getting a sex fix and so it raises the possibility again out of habit. Or we're traveling on business again and historically that's been a time to relapse. Some urges might be triggered by little more than fluctuations in testosterone or spirituality. However, if none of those other culprits are in the vicinity, and sometimes even when they are, it's always good to dig around a bit for buried emotion. I've found it to be the most reliable of suspects.