Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sports, Physical Pain, and Masculinity
People tell me that I'm really strong. I am. And I am not.
Emotionally, I've survived through all kinds of hell. But physically, I'm a wimp. Break my heart and I'll compose a most brilliant piece of work. Stub my toe and I become a pathetic baby.
Or stub my thumb... my right thumb, to be precise.
I'm going out to play a game of real basketball with real players.
:manly woo hoo:
I discovered two things. (1) Jogging at one's own pace is not the same as sprinting up and down the courts. I was breathless after 10 minutes. (2) I can hardly function without my opposable right thumb. (I told you I'm a wimp! Cut me slack already.)
My experience today brought back childhood memories.
Football, we call it. Where fast balls slam into your gut or hard shoes smash against your shins while you're breathless and coughing and sweaty and itchy and dying. Add to that a strong, fast, sporty elder brother who is yelling at some useless, fat-assed faggot for missing a ball, or running too slowly.
Who? Me? pant... pant...
No wonder I went into music instead. And also hanging around girls, drawing pictures of princesses with them.
IT BLOODY HURTS TO PLAY TEAM SPORTS!
Scholarly question #1: How many men with SSA grew up with gender identity disorder?
Answer: Many [ref 1,2].
Scholarly question #2: How many boys with gender identity struggles did not play sports with other boys because they were very sensitive to physical pain?
While icing my thumb joint, I seriously contemplated quitting.
Brother B called. (Don't remember him? He's one of my straight friends who knows about my struggle and is teaching me to play basketball. Here and here.)
"Hey, so did you enjoy basketball today?"
"Well... yeah. I found out that I'm either allergic to something in the air or I'm asthmatic. Also, I injured my thumb a couple of times." And then I forced myself to get out of my self-pity thumb-pain funk and eeked out a "but overall, I enjoyed myself."
Because, damn it, I did! I just wish I didn't have this asthma/allergy thing, and learned how to handle a basketball better so that I wouldn't hurt my thumb.
"I saw you. You did pretty well. I mean, you went in there and did some good moves."
"Hmm. Hum. Well. Yeah."
Thanks, brother B, point guard extraordinaire. I guess I didn't do too badly given that it was my second time playing basketball. After all, these guys really did know what they were doing.
I think part of embracing maleness is to embrace physical pain. I don't know why I am so sensitive to it. I see it in my son. He is so afraid of getting himself hurt, while the other boys around him take all kinds of physical risks. And he is also, at the same time, incredibly emotionally sensitive--a gifted artist, for sure.
There is something to this. I need to think more on it.
In the meantime, it's confession time. I did it again. Looked at pornography. This time, I even masturbated to it. Heterosexual porn, though. Seeing men's goodies alone just don't cut it for me anymore. I need to see naked women and hear their moans. This is the third time it's happened. But the heterosexual porn does not feel as emotionally charged as I remember the gay porn felt. It's lonely being a heterosexual man. I can't quite explain it. It's a lot more lonely somehow.
Note: I am not sanctioning looking at porn or masturbating to it. The above is a *confession*. I see it as sin and I have repented of it, and told my wife about it (I also confess to her *every time* I fall with porn or masturbation). I am processing authentically with the hope that it will lead to greater transparency and healing... somehow.