Embracing the Mama’s Boy…

Who am I really?

There’s conflict inside of me

With so much I want to be

And so much I want to see

But, so much that cannot be

There’s two sides that make me, me

And both sides won’t let me be

At war most constantly

Tearing apart internally

How am I to find victory

When for trees the forest cannot be seen

A general with no army to lead

A vocalist with no song to sing

A visionary with only shattered dreams

A musician with only broken strings

Trying to grasp what’s just out of reach

Wanting to understand what no one can teach

Striving to share with no words to speak

And the answer to one question I seek…

…after all, who am I, really?

Embracing the Mama’s Boy…

During a conversation with a mentor in 2006, he said, “You’re a man’s man Aaron.  People like you and want to be around you…”.  Finally, I was hearing the words of affirmation that I had worked so hard to achieve.  People now saw the image of self I had wanted so badly to convey.  I had buried the mamma’s boy!  The side of “me” that disgusted me, was finally hidden from the view of most any within my new sphere of influence.

I was a cop, a detective sergeant, SWAT team member, Officer of the year, I could bench press 300+ pounds, when I walked in a room people would make comments like “Wow, I wouldn’t want to make you mad”, some of my cop friends would say things like “Aaron’s not afraid of anything” or “if stuff hits the fan, I want Aaron in my corner”.  People would say that I was intimidating, even scary…and I LOVED IT!!!  I bought into this perception and adopted this new persona as the new and improved Aaron…

Truth be told, I wasn’t always like this…

An early exposure to pornography at 4 years old and an exposure to sex when I was molested by a neighborhood friend at 5 years old, left me emotionally confused, overwhelmed and fearful.

Growing up I was afraid of everything!  I hated that I was afraid!  Guilt and feelings of panic were a nearly a daily occurrence for me for most of my remembered childhood.  I was afraid to be by myself, I was afraid to get out of bed in the morning, I was afraid that mom and dad wouldn’t come home, I was afraid to sleep alone, I was afraid of the nightmares (some of which I still remember to this day), I washed my hands ALL THE TIME which I found out later is typical of a child who struggles with feelings of guilt…I always felt dirty.

As I got older the situations changed, but the fear and guilt did not.  It was just transferred to new objects, The fear of being in front of crowds, the fear of rejection, the fear of confrontation, the fear of the unknown “what is this AIDS thing and what if I have it and just don’t know it yet”, guilt about sexual identity, guilt about impure thoughts, guilt of experimenting with pornography, the fear of getting caught or found out and the fear of failure.

I despised being afraid!!  It made me feel weak, it made me feel alone, I was embarrassed by it and I didn’t want anyone else to know it was there!!!

Truth is, I was always soft, I was a sweet natured kid, I was very in touch with my feelings, I cried easily, I was the poster child for the  stereotypical mamma’s boy.

I saw how other kids responded in school when I would get upset and cry and it humiliated me.  Maybe a teacher yelled at me, maybe I got in trouble, maybe I was aggressively confronted by another student…it didn’t matter what the situation was, the result was most always the same…. Tears associated with trembling hands.  I wanted SO BAD to be tough, but I knew that I wasn’t…

These responses continued all the way through elementary and middle school.  By the time I was in the 8th grade I had grown to hate the mamma’s boy inside of me!  Choking back tears so that no one would see them, hiding my fear and refusing to admit to it, putting up fronts and pretending to not care or be afraid I confronted those things which made me weak in my own eyes.

If something made me feel afraid, I did that thing until I wasn’t afraid to do it anymore or I just simply did it while being afraid…I wasn’t going to allow fear to dictate to me how I was going to live my life.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing except I was also throwing out the metaphorical “baby with the bath water” by not only disallowing fears dictate, but also slowly killing the sweetness and softness that I naively interpreted as weaknesses in my personality.

So, fast forward through all four years of High School, and a couple years of college and I am married, a youth pastor, and preparing to move to Nashville to help start a church at 20 years old.

The married life is tough, we are very young, still attempting to figure out who we are as individuals while also growing in our relationship together and barely making ends meet financially, living 579 miles away from anything that even resembles family, working as much as we can and attempting to help our pastors “build” this church…

Then the bottom falls out.  It is revealed that the pastor whose ministry I had been faithfully serving for the past several years has been living a double life.  I felt used, betrayed, taken advantage of and lied to and bitterness sunk its claws into me, robbing me of what was left of the mamma’s boy…I hardly shed a tear for 5 years after this event.  I became so bitter!

I continued to work for the church as a youth pastor and later an associate pastor while the former pastor’s wife continued attempting to build the church that she and her ex husband had started.  In all I was the youth pastor or associate pastor with that ministry for 9 years, during which time I also began my career in law enforcement.

I loved being a cop.  Initially it gave me a sense of power that I had never really experienced before and it went to my head like it does nearly every cop for the first year or so that they are in law enforcement…It’s called rookie-itis.  Like most, I got over it and began to advance in my career.  I was a good cop and I knew it.  I had favor with my superior officers and quickly moved up in rank and position.  After being named Officer of the Year and voted onto the SWAT team I was promoted to Detective Sergeant and began my training in investigations.

This posed a whole new set of problems for me as I was once again faced with confrontation anxiety.  It wasn’t a situation where I could simply cuff someone and arrest them anymore.  I couldn’t hide behind my size or my muscle in my new office.  The paradigm of being a cop had changed from being a law “enforcer” to a law “prosecutor”.  I had to confront criminals with words, evidence, and confidence in order to effectively do my job and ultimately keep these guys off the street.  It was a chess match and I was intimidated.

For a season, I felt the mamma’s boy trying to come out of hiding.  Initially, when I first began interviewing suspects, I would feel my hands begin to tremble and my heart beat like it did when I was in middle school. It took me a while to become acquainted again with dealing with these feelings and overcoming them but with time and experience I developed a self-confidence greater than I had ever known which I believe even went a step further into arrogance.

I was very self-assured.  I was confident in my ability to handle a situation, I was confident in my ability to diffuse a situation, I was confident in my ability to eliminate a situation if I had to, I was no longer manipulated by fear, I had learned to harness it and use it as fuel to motivate me as I compensated with overconfidence.

I was finally the tough guy that I had always wanted to be…The Mamma’s boy was buried somewhere in the grave yard of experiences, and the “new and improved” Aaron was now at the helm making the new rules as he went!

Self assurance is a dangerous animal because as long as you are in control you think the animal is subject to you…but once the situation arises in which you are no longer in control, then everything you built upon that foundation of self comes crashing down with it…and when it does you lose what you thought was your identity… and when you lose your identity, you lose your security, and when you lose your security you come to the realization that you are without everything that previously gave you a sense of worth…

This is what happened to me with the events on and following December 13th, 2006…

The day started like any other day…I went to work, arrested a couple of guys for burglary and those guys tried to kill me…

My injuries left me wondering if I would ever heal as severe vertigo set in and my world literally spun for months.  I was placed on several medications for the vertigo then out of nowhere, a month later, the panic attacks set in as the doctors hypothesized that I was struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I am still not convinced that this was the case but it is undeniable that something physiological was taking place and causing me to feel severe anxiety.  For a year, I was on several emotion suppressing medications and seeing a psychologist to get me through the day without incident.

I used to think that people who had panic attacks or saw a shrink were just “weak” and now, here I was, the tough guy stripped of everything I thought I was and now experiencing the very side of life that I had judged others for experiencing…

This paradigm shift, at times was nearly unbearable…

After several months I did begin to see improvement, months of physical therapy and healing brought me to the place where I was again functioning on a nearly normal level.  I was able to drive, ride my motorcycle, play sports, etc but the doctors said that I could never return to law enforcement.  So although I was getting better, I was left in the “what now” boat, realizing that everything that I had worked so hard to become was gone.

During this time I met a man named David who was doing some healing of his own and we quickly became friends.

David had a background in ministry like I did but was 15 years my senior.  He’d seen a lot, experienced a lot, and like many, was wounded by his experiences.

During a lengthy conversation with David, he asked me a question that no one had ever been brazen enough to address.  He asked me, “Why do you hate weakness in yourself so much?”  The question kind of confused me and seemed rhetorical because I assumed that everyone worked to be strong in the areas where they are weak…then he hit me with the question that floored me.  He said, “You act just like a kid who has been molested, Were you molested as a child Aaron?”  David had been so transparent with me, sharing details of his life that were really none of my business, but I didn’t know how to answer this question.  I had never spoken with anyone outside of my parents and my wife about this subject.  Sensing my discomfort he asked me another question that forced me to remember something that I wanted to forget…He said, “when you were a little boy, were you a mamma’s boy?”

I said, “yeah, I was a mamma’s boy”…

David quickly finished his thought, “You hate that mamma’s boy Aaron.  You hate the weakness that he represents, You hate what he reminds you of, and the calluses of your life experiences has caused you to bury him deep inside.”

I knew what David was saying was true but his next statement took our conversation from “insightful” to “profound”, and in an instant changed my paradigm of who I was…

David looked at me and said, “Who do you think God is more likely to use, The you that HE created, or the you that experience and YOU created?”  He went on to say, “God created you with the sweetness of a mamma’s boy, a gentleness that reflects His character and there is a balance between being a warrior and a mamma’s boy…The bible says that King David was a man after God’s own heart.  David learned to balance that sweetness and gentleness of being a musician who calmed Saul with his music and shepherded sheep and being the Warrior who killed a lion, a bear and Goliath… In order for you to become the man that God has created you to be, you are going to have to learn to embrace the mamma’s boy inside of you while also being the warrior leader that you are called to be…It is in balancing both of these that you will become complete…”

All these years, I thought that the mamma’s boy was a weakness in my personality, when in fact he was a strength.  David went on to explain that empathy is a characteristic of the mamma’s boy that is essential in effective leadership… Jesus was moved with compassion concerning those He came in contact with…He was the perfect balance of “mamma’s boy and Warrior King”…

I guess Mark Twain was right when he said, Education mainly consists of what we have unlearned…

I am unlearning self-assuredness and recognizing that my identity is only in whom God has created me to be…I am the sum total of who God has made me and my life experiences. God has used them all to build me into the man I am today – Well rounded and Complete in Him…

The bible states that God is faithful to complete the work that He has begun in us…Maybe it’s time that we allow Him to do that instead of attempting to write our own destiny outside of who He has created us to be…

I hope my transparency in writing this will motivate you to embrace who you are regardless of how it is perceived…It is in this embrace of self that I have truly began to heal emotionally…I’m still a work in progress but realizing that I am more than I have become gives me a desire to finish the race in the shoes that God created me to walk in…

Be encouraged, God is faithful!

God Bless…

Aaron

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