Back in December, I wrote a post about the life-changing weekend I experienced with the ManKind Project. Alongside forty other men, I went through an initiation into a deeper form of manhood & a new relationship to my own masculinity. I walked in nervous, fearful, and alone. I walked out empowered, determined, and part of a new brotherhood.
Over a month later, I remain grateful for the massive inner growth I experienced that weekend. But I’m perhaps even more grateful for the deep bond of brotherhood I formed with the men of Asheville who went through that initiation with me.
This past Saturday night, I was honored to have many of those men at my new home in the mountains. It was a beautiful sight: all of us gathering around the fire pit, keeping alive the connection we formed on our weekend.
It’s a moment I had actually been praying for, a longing I had felt, for quite some time.
Male friendship has not always come easily for me. Childhood experiences gave me a story that men were not very dependable or trust-worthy. As a teenager, my creative mind and empathetic heart made me feel out of place with most guys my age. As for older men, I just expected them to disappoint me… or that I would disappoint them, whichever came first. For many years, I had a much easier time relating with & opening up to women. During the MKP weekend, I was shocked that many other men felt the exact same way.
Over the last 10 years, I thought I had made some real progress in my relationships with men. Among the poets & artists in Charleston, I found some men that I could really call my brothers. But about a year & a half ago, something happened that really shook my sense of trust.
I found out that one of the men I called my brother was not being honest with me. There had been things happening behind my back and when I finally asked him about it, there was more dishonesty & evasion. Over several conversations, I asked him - begged him - to show up to our friendship on a deeper level. For whatever reason, he couldn’t - or wouldn’t - do that.
I was heartbroken on a level I didn’t expect. I had been through a divorce, but somehow this was more destabilizing & disheartening. I sunk into a very deep depression. I no longer felt emotionally safe in the Charleston poetry community, a place I had called home for nearly seven years. All of this contributed to my decision to leave Charleston in May of last year.
The good news is that I found an excellent male therapist to work with. Not only did he help me work through my deep level of disappointment & heartbreak, he modeled for me a kind of mature masculinity that I had been deeply craving - without even knowing it.
At one point, I remember we were discussing my hopes for moving to Asheville. I said that one of my highest hopes & priorities was to form some deep male friendships in that city, to have a community of men that I could trust and rely on. When I closed my eyes to imagine this, I pictured a group of men gathered around a fire. I envisioned owning a home with a backyard fire pit where I could invite over a group of amazing men to gather & share in a deep brotherhood.
On Saturday night, that vision came true.
Just as many women are waking up to the need for deep, sacred sisterhood, I think many men are having the same realization: a need for community with genuine, mature, trustworthy men. I can’t speak on behalf of all men, but I’ll speak for myself: I need brothers in my life. Not just drinking buddies, not just guys to watch the game with - but men I can share with, men I can open up to, men I can trust, men who will hold me accountable, men who will believe in me… as I believe in them.
I’ve found that here in Asheville. I’m so grateful to have these men by my side.
I love my brothers.