“This is the dangerous side to manliness; when it’s used to hide something. Some men hurt others. Some destroy themselves with alcohol and drugs, making certain others see them for how they feel inside. Me? Failure wasn’t an option. I pushed myself physically and mentally to the extreme, with the hope that achievement would solve what was rotting my soul from the inside out.
For the next twenty years, I was a manly machine and shame was the engine.
By the time I turned thirty-five, I had collected a list of masculine titles: Mechanical Engineer. Collegiate Athlete. Navy Officer. Ironman. MBA. Major League Baseball Executive. Veteran. Advertising Executive.
The harder I pushed, the more my shame demanded.
The sad part? I honestly didn’t know what was bothering me. If you were to ask me if I had ever been abused as a boy I would have said no and I would have meant it. I had rationalized everything that had happened as a close call. In my mind, I was one of the lucky ones who narrowly missed being abused.
Then, one day, I found myself in a boardroom, in a meeting at ESPN in New York City, listening to myself talk. I wasn’t a man. I was a shell of the person I had been when I was seven. I was a terrified boy dressed as a man. I was only saying things for the benefit of those around me, and I hated every word. I hated every ounce of my carefully crafted image (linked above).”