The Inside Feeling of Failure

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Tony was a man in his late 40’s, successful by outward appearance, but on the inside feeling that he had somehow failed at life.  His kids were off to college, and his wife had decided to ‘take care of herself for once’ and travel the world with another man. She apparently ‘resonated’ with him better, she had told him over their evening glass of wine a few months ago. Since then, Tony had buried himself in his work by day, managing a team of employees. By evening he was exhausted and lonely. He would flick on the TV, pop open a beer, and attempt to fool himself into thinking he had it made, with no one to nag him anymore.

Instead, though, he was just left wondering ‘is this all there is to life?’. The house felt empty, the phone never rang with a friendly voice at the other end, he had no idea how to reach out to anyone. He could recall days gone by, when he had felt excitement, passion, love for life and people. It seemed so long ago, he had forgotten how to feel that way.

Tony, is a compilation of many men that come to me for help. He is a product of our societies’ conditioning. We have all been fed the dream of getting a job, getting married, having 2.5 children and a house with a fenced in backyard for the dog. He thought if he followed the script, then he was guaranteed happiness and a sense of fulfillment. So why does this sense of joy and happiness remain so elusive?

“I don’t have an answer for you, but I want you to know that you have a very powerful problem!” This is a quote from a psychologist who worked with many men like Tony. This may not be the answer he was hoping for, a magic pill, or a quick fix for his life. Client’s stories are a key to their personal and collective mysteries and therefore, effective therapy often involves more than diagnosing and treating symptoms. Collaboration with the client, curiosity about the complexities of their lives, and trust that the client is capable of the awareness they need to move themselves forward, is also necessary.

Do we even have such an integrative model for healing that such a case as Tony’s would require? His distress is multidimensional and beyond the realms of behavioural or medical approaches. Defining what I do as sex coaching, is much too narrow a term. Intimacy education maybe reaches a bit further. I work as a guide, an expert, a curious, intelligent co-conspirator. Someone who literally breathes with clients, and accompanies them on their healing journey. But I leave the responsibility for healing squarely with the client. Tony must decide for himself what his new idea of life and success might look like. He must dig and rediscover his own passions and desires.

This really sums up the meaning of ‘individualized care’, for no two people present with the same problem or are healed with the same solution. The act of re-membering who we are is a process that can happen quickly, or take a lifetime, or even longer. It is exciting, and full of despair. We must be willing to feel. In order to feel, we have been given the gift of inhabiting a body. Gabrielle Roth sums it up well in her quote from ‘Maps to Ecstasy’,

“Your body is the ground metaphor of your life, the expression of your existence. It is your bible, your encyclopedia, your life story. Everything that happens to you is stored and reflected in your body. Your body knows, your body talks. The relationship of your self to your body is indivisible, inescapable, unavoidable.”

So, I challenge you now to take just 5 breaths, and feel into your body. Go on, take a breath, feel the air enter your lungs, and then exhale through your nose, feeling the air rush through your nostrils. This is the beginning of the awareness of our body, our ‘felt’ sense. This is the beginning of the journey. Breathe with me. We all share the same air. We are not alone. This is the beginning of intimacy.