Not Eating My Wheaties Any More.
After spending 80% of this year on ADT (Androgen Deprivation Therapy), I’ve been granted a one-month reprieve as I spend the next two weeks wrapping up my radiation and preparing for my book launch and tour the very next week. ADT is one of many medical treatments for advanced prostate cancer and it’s taken my testosterone down to 1% of its normal level which has led to the following: menopausal side effects, no libido, low energy and mood changes, brain fog, and declining muscle mass and added weight. It’s not pretty. On the other hand, the upside is more emotional sensitivity, less risk-taking behavior, and less aggression. Between stimulus and response, there is a space. Some of you wives may want to sneak a little ADT in your husband’s Wheaties…just kidding!
Who or what is a man without a libido? A eunuch? Or maybe just an example of the acceleration of a man who is aging. Everybody is busy being somebody, right? And, the “somebody training” I received at a young age was to emulate John Wayne: tough, unemotional, competitive, and daring. As a sensitive young boy who felt different from others, this was a lot to digest…while I wolfed down my Wheaties, the Breakfast of Champions. I proceeded to embrace the rugged individualist archetype with serious girlfriends in high school and college, but I felt like I had a low libido.
Then at 22, I came out and my testosterone spiked and, all of a sudden, strangely at a time when I unconsciously felt like being half of a man due to being gay, I felt very masculine in the company of other men. My macho behavior undercut the models of who society thought I was. It was all a bit confusing.
And, then after two long relationships with men, I ended up single in my late 40s for the first extended time in more than two decades. As some of you witnessed me at that time, I went a little wild, sowed my wild oats, and replayed an adolescence that felt like it had been missed. I enjoyed that period almost as a rite of passage for what was to come next: my diagnosis of prostate cancer five and a half years ago which trimmed the sails on my libido, both physically and psychologically. Today, I am a monk.
But, as much as I’ve hated dealing with cancer, I’ve been liberated from testosterone prison. In many ways, I’m just having an extreme example of what all men experience during andropause at this age, but I was prepared for it and many men just think there’s something wrong with them. Men want quick fixes so they take their little blue pills because we tend to treat our bodies like machines whereas my women friends seem to see their body more like a holistic system.
I’m no longer a passion puppet. At times, I feel less virile, less manly due to no longer having a prostate, no longer producing semen, no longer having a libido. But, I’ve also felt a liberation from my ego and from this well-maintained rental vehicle that is my body. This treacherous and transformative year has helped me to see that what’s truly important isn’t what the vehicle looks like on the outside, but how it feels on the inside. So, I’ve really enjoyed doing some interior decoration of my internal life, my emotions and my sense of soul and spirit. Meditation has been my superhighway to finding a new state of being, less focused on Wheaties and more focused on wellness.
So, as I end the year, I feel blessed. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be “somebody.” And, not just any “somebody.” Somebody that deserves attention and admiration. But, this experience of shifting from my ego to my soul has helped me to see, as Ram Dass suggests, the journey of life is to learn how to become nobody, to embrace impermanence, and to free myself from my vaunted expectations. To be honest, this is all very new for me so I even feel a little strange writing about it, but I want to capture this in the moment as it feels like breadcrumbs to my future. Thanks for being on this journey of discovery with me. I hope this daily blog helps you on your journey into 2024.