We’re different. And the day we realise this, our lives and our worlds become better and easier places to inhabit. When I began my training in 2000 I was invited to join the men’s group run by Karaj, my trainer. I had been a very keen footballer and many of my greatest moments in life had been as part of successful teams together with other men, working with and for each other.
However, I wondered whether this group of men would be the kind of atmosphere from which I would benefit. One feeling I remember having was that it would not be much fun because there were no women involved. What quickly became clear was that the absence of women in the group was a necessity. At the very least, it meant there were no distractions for me from the work I was there to do. At best, it meant we could be men, fully, which is more important than it may at first seem.
There are things about being a man which only other men can truly understand. Equally, only women can fully empathise with other women about what it means to be a woman. For instance, I am so glad my girlfriend has her girlfriends with whom she can talk and spend time. Without them she would be more reliant on me for the kind of support which I can only approximate because, try as I might, I can never fully comprehend what it means to be a woman. I cannot help her in the same way her (female) friends can. In turn, it would be unfair to expect from her the same kind of support I get from my (male) friends.
So, throughout my training I learnt from the other men; I benefited from their support, their feedback, their experiences and from their presence in my life. As a result, my relationships with women changed; my dependency waned and my interactions with them became much more straightforward. But the journey to that place was not an easy one, strewn as it was with the kind of feedback and realisations found in today’s entry from 11 years ago.