Finding the cowboy and Warrior after Trauma
John Eldredge has written many books, starting with “Wild at Heart,” “The Masculine Journey,” and then the book called “Fathered by God.” In the book, John describes the journey of masculinity through these six distinctive stages; Beloved Son, Cowboy, Warrior, Lover, King and then finishing of at the Sage stage.
The majority of people I would suggest have lived through at least 5 of these stages very successfully. They knew what it was like to be a beloved son, who was taught how to enjoy life as a young teenager, learning how to go camping, fishing, play football with his school friends, doing well in school at the cowboy stage and then progressing into the warrior stage becoming a young adult, waging war, winning and losing, passing his drivers test successfully, getting their first job, winning their first girlfriend and keeping her long enough to become a lover, someone who has fought all their battles and learnt how to walk away from fights and how to stand up to protect yourself and your bride. Then we progress into being the King, head of the household able to lead your household and to do it well.
Then we have the minority of which I probably fall into this category, I most certainly didn’t feel like a beloved son at all, and as a result I never was given the chance to learn all of the skills needed in the cowboy stage, thus meaning all these lessons I should have learnt as a young kid, I was now learning during my first marriage as a young adult, learning how to be a warrior at the same time.
Then because I was now in an abusive marriage, my mind was struggling with fight or flight instead of being relaxed within the lover stage.
Adult survivors of complex childhood trauma can struggle with processing what they survived in childhood, which can lead to a host of emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms. Like other people who have gone through similar cycles of abuse, trauma can become a heavy coat that I struggled to wear. Then we add on the trauma of domestic abuse at the hands of a wife/civil partner etc and then it becomes all consuming. It is no wonder my mind crashed. Deep down I knew should’ve left that marriage long ago, but my male training of “I can make this work, I can fix her, she just needs to be shown that I love her, I need to be strong, It is only a scratch” these thoughts were at war with the childhood trauma of wanting to run away. Looking back now I know that my childhood trauma was not the fact that I had been raped or beaten, obviously they were possible painful factors – in fact the trauma was being rejected when I reached out for help multiple times and being told to apologise for asking for help. The warrior stage was being played out in my trauma filled mind, and eventually I crashed, on a mental ward taking Quetiapine other drugs and being given CAT and CBT therapy trying to repair my Warrior’d out mind. Childhood abuse can include invalidation, which is sometimes known as “silent abuse” because it can be difficult to spot and identify. Common patterns seen in invalidation include ignoring, dismissing, minimizing, or rejecting a child’s feelings, needs, or opinions.
After recovering from the mental breakdown, and my first marriage ending I found this reality of not being able to maintain anything. I never managed to keep a job, friendships were terminally short, I became a serial borrower of money because I never had any, I was in and out of shared housing with many stages out on the street. All because there were stages in my masculine journey out of kilter due to trauma.
Abused men are not just another statistic, or just another victim, as Jay Vallotton said during a sermon once, we have unfair labels put on to us as a result of childhood trauma or when as adults we experience domestic abuse in whatever form it may take, and that label becomes our identity. We have labels such as “fragile,” “Broken,” “Vulnerable,” “Rejected,” and “Reckless.”
Trauma is a wound that can be healed I believe. It isn’t just a case of sitting down in a chair and speaking to yet another counsellor, sometimes reengaging with our masculine journeys again. When you know you are vulnerable already you do not need to hear that being repeated to you. To hear it again is not a reality check. What is a reality check for anyone who has suffered abuse is to know that you can learn to enjoy and take part in life again.
Some of us abuse survivors, may need to go back and learn how to be a cowboy again how to put up a tent successfully, what it is like to jump on a mountain bike only to fall of it again and to slide down a mountain path on our faces. Some of us may need to learn how to navigate the warrior stage again have the small victories every time we are successful in spending time with our children, or when we can go through just one day without having to say sorry.
Here at Jonathan’s House Ministries, we want to help you to overcome the trauma and to get back on to the masculine journey that is there for you to enjoy. To help you get past the guilt, and shame and fear to be able to look forward to the day when you can receive and recognise true love. Every man has the right to be the King he was created and designed to be, some of us have harder routes to navigate to get there, at Jonathan’s House Ministries we believe it is not only possible – it is doable.
Alongside counselling sessions, we will help all men that come in through our doors to go and try to enjoy being a man again, going on wild adventures, finding new positive labels to wear instead of the trauma inflicted ones.
If you know you need support please click on the chat icon, and there will be someone on the other side waiting to talk with you and help you begin a new chapter in your life. Maybe you are a church leader reading this, and you would like to hear more about how Jonathan’s House Ministries can help the wounded men within your church to be restored, healed then please contact us and we can arrange a meeting.