A Man’s Perspective On Abuse by Ned Hickson – “Real Men Have Mastered Control of Themselves, Not Others”

I often say my one true purpose in this lifetime, and my main desired goal, is to raise one good man.  I’m not sure my son feels my purpose is as much heavenly ordained as making him my beast of burden.  I kid of course, but I’m sure he would say I have not made his growing up years a piece of cake either.

Outside of that, I am confident that he does feel seen, heard, and that he matters.  It’s these points that I’m hopeful he’ll gently pass on to the next generation(s) in our family – that would be the cake icing.

When I come across positive qualities in a man, I love to point those out to my boy.  One man who remains constant in those examples is one of my favorite writing pals, popular syndicated humorist & author, Ned Hickson. I’ve re-blogged a couple of his humor columns before, but this one really resonated with me in another way.

It spoke to me because we share the desire to overcome similar childhood experience. As he commented to me in typical Ned style, “As you know, we are kindred spirits in a way. Not just because we both have good hair and occasionally wear glasses, but also through our past experiences with abuse.”

It’s in that vein that Ned tackled the topic of abuse from a man’s point of view.

This post was originally published on Ned’s website and was featured on the Good Men Project, April 9th. I can’t recommend enough reading Ned for consistent quality in humorous perspectives and for his occasional, very eloquent approaches to some tough subjects.  I give you Ned…

Control Box - Ned Hickson

Anyone who reads my weekly newspaper column or blog posts knows I try to keep life in perspective through humor. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the reasons my children are still alive today. While I joke about that, for many years humor was also part of a coping mechanism from a childhood witnessing both verbal and physical abuse by the men in my family—specifically, my father and older brothers.

The good news is that each of them eventually turned themselves, their lives, and the lives of the people they loved, around. It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized the impact that a childhood witnessing abuse had on me, and how some of those wounds—as both a witness and recipient—had never truly healed. I know this because I occasionally saw reflections of my father and brothers in myself as I fought to avoid making the same mistakes with my own children; I also know this because I came to realize that as much as we want to tell ourselves we can choose not to take any baggage with us on our journey through life, ultimately it’s always somewhere waiting to be claimed.

There is no getting rid of it completely, only a conscious decision to leave it circling on the carousel.

Because I am a father with teenage boys and girls, I stay hip to the way they communicate.

Wow. Did you just feel that? It was their eyes rolling.

Actually, I’m not “hip” as much as I am privy to how they talk to each other. While social media has opened the doors to communication in some ways, it has swung too far in others. Verbal abuse still takes place; it just happens in hushed Tweets and SnapChats instead. The result is the development of a disposable sense of emotions—a disconnect from face-to-face that has been replaced by Facebook-to-Facebook.

As a result, spotting the signs of abuse has become tougher while becoming an abuser is easier. Thanks to social media, those opportunities are literally at our fingertips. For those with a hair-trigger temper, every Tweet, text or post sent in anger pre-conditions abusive behavior and makes it harder to recognize in ourselves.

It becomes a conditioned response in a cycle that gets harder and harder to break.

For young men, their teens and early 20s are a time when they are defining themselves and establishing their place in a male-dominated world while, at the same time, trying to understand the intricacies of communicating with the opposite sex. How do I know this? Because, statistically speaking, I was a young man once. Trying to appear tough among your peers while still holding on to the part of you that is thoughtful and caring feels contradictory to what we’re taught about being a man.

We see it in movies and advertising; we hear it in music:

Being a man means being in control. In charge. In command.

Of life and our relationships.

It’s a social stereotype perpetuated mostly through media and advertising. Why? Because it sells. Body wash. Albums. Movie tickets. Clothes. Video games.

It’s baggage our culture has been carrying for generations.

Being a real man does mean being in control. But not of others. It means being in control of yourself enough to understand, acknowledge and accept your strengths and weaknesses. It also means never using your strength—physically or verbally—to overpower others. Particularly the women in your life, whether it be your wife, girlfriend, mother or daughter.

A real man provides protection, safety, and acceptance; a weak man dishes out pain, insecurity, and denial. In either case, they are reflections of your inner self.

The question is: What kind of reflection do you want to see when you look in the mirror each day?

There’s no denying sexism and a male-dominance mentality are still deeply woven into the fabric of our society. And while we have made strides in some areas by recognizing and discussing matters of physical and verbal abuse, that baggage is still out there circling on the carousel.

As men, we must make a conscious decision each day to avoid claiming it.

-Ned Hickson

Ned is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist and editor for Siuslaw News.  His weekly column appears in dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and Canada as a syndicated feature for News Media Corporation.  He is the author of “Humor At The Speed of Life”. Look for his latest upcoming book called, “Pearls of Writing Wisdom: (From 16 years as a shucking columnist)” through Port Hole Publishing.



Ordinary pearls

Nedism Wisdom  (Thanks, Ned)

Motherly Insights Include How to Control Children With a Jalapeño

Because I really enjoyed this. Because I couldn’t come up with anything better. Because I took the weekend off and threw Mother’s Day over to a man.

I turn over the controls to one of my favorite humorists and a great pal who managed to make me laugh and cringe at memories of my own mammilla disasters.  I give you:

Ned Hickson’s – Motherly Insights Include How to Control Children With a Jalapeño


mom jalapenoThis year perhaps more than any other, my wife deserves something special for Mother’s Day. That’s because in spite of our youngest daughter’s many pre-pubescent mood swings, my wife has somehow managed to avoid what I’m sure has been a strong (some might even say natural) urge to eat her young. This hasn’t been easy. As I mentioned, our daughter is experiencing the physical and emotional challenges that accompany adolescence. One minute she is merrily talking about her favorite kind of cheese; the next minute, she is blaming cheese for ruining her life. As a father, my instinct is to fix the problem by addressing the root of the issue by going directly to the refrigerator and throwing out everything that is — or has the potential of becoming — a cheese-like substance.

My wife, on the other hand, understands there are complex emotional issues at work, and that, in spite of my good intentions, the likelihood of me being able to resolve such issues is akin to having a bomb successfully de-activated by a goat. Thanks to her motherly intuition, my wife was able to explain to me that what our daughter says, and what she really means, are two completely different things.

As I understand it, this is the first step to becoming a woman.

Being a man, I am no stranger to this concept.

However, I was in denial when it came to my daughter. Mostly because I didn’t want to admit that she is growing up; time is slipping away. And that, in just a couple of years, my wife and daughter will probably be sharing the same PMS cycle.

Though I kept this realization to myself, it was clear that my wife’s insightfulness is something that only comes with motherhood. It’s a bond that starts during that first nine months, when mother and child reach a special understanding that if baby doesn’t stop using mommy’s bladder for step aerobics, mommy will eat a raw jalapeno. In this way, even before birth, a child learns Mom will endure physical or emotional discomfort if it means providing a valuable life lesson; because that’s what Moms do best.


If you don’t believe me, then I have two words for you: Breast Pump. True, not every mother utilized this torture device, but the mere thought that she could have is reason enough for a child to be respectful. If you’re in doubt, go right now to the nearest full-service car wash, attach an industrial car vacuum nozzle to one of your mammilla, push the on button, and keep it there until a) your chest resembles a deflated balloon animal, or b) someone calls the police.

And calling the police on yourself doesn’t count.

You will quickly realize just one of the many things a mother endures for the sake of her child’s wellbeing and why, if it were up to fathers to provide breast milk to the human species, we’d all be nursed by monkeys.

So this year, I plan to do something special for my wife; something to let her know how much I appreciate all that she does as a mother.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

The fact is, I haven’t been able to think straight since that whole car vacuum incident. In hindsight, I never would have taken my shirt off if I knew my wife had that many quarters.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media CorporationHis first book, Humor at the Speed of Lifeis available from Port Hole PublicationsAmazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

Blog Tour – “#mywritingprocess”…………….. Hey, It’s Possible It’s Not As Dry As It Sounds, Unless My Martini Is Involved, In Which Case We’re Talking Desert Material

I’ve been invited to participate in the 2014 blog tour to explain my writing process, (#mywritingprocess).  Considering the topic, next to my story in 50 words, this should be my shortest post yet.  Should be, but if you know me at all, you know I like to talk.

horse tour bus 1First, let me say that my invitation to participate in this esteemed tour came from the esteemed source of my groupie-ness, syndicated Journalist, Author, and dreamy volunteer Firefighter, Ned Hickson.  (Thank you Ned, for that awesome tour intro you gave me last week). Some know I am Ned’s number one groupie, and as he reluctantly points out, his only groupie.  No matter, I vow to follow him (virtually) all over the world.

Ned’s blog is a constant source of crazy humor, but he also inspires with occasional tales of overcoming some of life’s toughest hills. In addition to inspiration and laughs, he provides a terrific weekly guide for how to become a better writer.  That’s a lot of great stuff to come out of one dreamy firefighter blogsite.

Okay, I’ve met all groupie gushing contract requirements.  Let’s head to the four questions that may help or hinder interest in how I do things.

What am I working on?

My biggest and most joyful working effort is being a mom, but the writing needs for that are mostly restricted to volunteer and permission forms. After those literary challenges, I lunge for any marketing or communications pleas that are actual paying projects, (more pleas(e). Finally, I get to blurt out whatever else is on my mind on various word docs that may or may not make it to my blog – like this post.

What I’m really working on is learning to loosen up on what I want to write, but I subscribe to Ned’s idea of writing being a super power – with responsibilities.  I’m traversing that line of balancing what I want to say with privacy issues; my truth vs. how that truth will affect people around me.  I suspect an ongoing battle with this.

be nice or else

 How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

blogging unique picI think most of us are not niche driven writers and so what I write is unique only in the sense of it being my personal experiences.  Despite this lack of distinctiveness, I’ve found a lot of various insights and common commiseration that serve to heal, inspire, and support my growth as a person and as a writer.  I hope that’s mutual with my readers.

Why do I write what I do?

blogging egg-various-emotions-29317166I am a product of my emotions.  Whatever puts a lump in my throat or induces a screech will find its way into my journals.  It’s not always about the big things, especially as life is the many more small moments.  As an average Earthling, I’d guess that most of those moments are relatable to most people.

I also suffer from good punchline comeback lag.  I can come back at ya an hour to several days after your bazinga! Blogging provides a great smoke screen for me to show off my semi-brilliance at the speed of a slug. 

How does my writing process work?

blogging writing processesDespite trying to follow the very good advice of setting writing schedules, I seem to respond best to the lash of deadlines. Although, when I feel an extra hit of passion for my topic, the words flow across the page quite steadily. Which is what happened when I started writing for this invitation. (Yep. You bet.)

What’s more usual is that I’ll get an idea, then map out various thoughts about it. To the naked eye, this map looks like utter madness. Which is where it drives me at times while I work at piecing those thoughts into a cohesive story line.

It can get frustrating when I think I’ve made two or more really great points, but I can’t get them to work together, or it would be overkill to use them all. Sometimes, this means I won’t finish a post for anywhere from a day to a year to never. Clearly, these are not uh, time sensitive.

Then we’re onto the final edit and spelling and grammar checks to the best of my ability. My final step has always been reading it out loud a few times. If it flows easily verbally, it seems to read well too. I listen for the artistry in the words. For me, this is confirming the truth of the statement really came through my heart.

I have to say that even when I do get a post finalized, I will still freak over a word here and there for probably around three months after its been published. I can be a little obsessive, which I don’t recommend. I’d suggest live it, love it, let it go. Eat, pray, love, blah, blah. 

The Worst Part

I bet you thought I was going to say: the wait for judgment. Well, there is that, but hopefully people will mostly give me a thumbs up. At the least, my work here is for my son, and maybe some other kids in my family who may someday get to hear my voice as it is.

No,  the worst part of this, is the request to choose someone to pass the tour torch to. This was way too hard. There are far too many wonderful writers, many of whom I have yet to get to on a regular, or any, basis. However, in this case, since I couldn’t pick the greatest story teller I know – my non-blogging step-dad, I chose a writer whose genre and style is quite different from mine.

If you haven’t met him yet, where have you been? I am referring to none other than Bruce Goodman, a writer known for his pool of prolific creativity and a mysterious and interesting past. He is a writing machine pumping out daily entertaining plot twists.  You can find his own tour insights at his website:                 http://bbgoodman.wordpress.com/

Finally, I’m also highlighting some writers who have recently flattered me with award nominations. They are insightful writers with distinctive voices and styles and I am very happy to have been able to come across their paths:

Rachel Carrera: who many already know is loaded with literary talent and is a terrific supporter of her fellow writers. Check her out at:                                         http://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/the-light-in-the-world/.

Dawnson: Dawnson gifts us with loads of beautiful photos of life’s varying moods and textures. Find her at:  http://iblogstr8sicit.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/my-phone-is-freaking-out/

Lastly, thank you for the nomination for another Versatile Award nomination to: http://betternotbroken.com/2014/03/15/if-anyone-is-versatile-it-is-me/

If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for your incredibly kind indulgence and I nominate you for supporter of the year!


Never Dare A “Jurnalist”

So, there I was, all comfy in full – all.by.myself.because.everyone.else. was.drenching.themselves.in.Super.Bowl.madness – mode.  I was happily reading in said football free zone peacefulness, when all of a sudden, I felt an instant flash of heat swell up from deep within.  At first I couldn’t tell if it was because I’d reached another poignant moment in Ned’s book, or from an overdue hot flash, or from the jarring fact that my own disheveled mug suddenly appeared out of nowhere onto my laptop screen.


Ned Hickson, Journalist & Author

True to his threat, Ned Hickson published my review of his book.  For those unfamiliar with this hilarious journalist, author, and part-time volunteer firefighter, I highly recommend his blog, ‘Ned’s Blog’ for a daily shot of hearty smiles and laughs, and of course it goes without saying that at least twice a day, in only merest homage to football, I whip out and flail the biggest golden pom-poms around his book, ‘Humor  at the Speed of Life’.

Enlightenment by Ned

Official #1 (and only) Ned Groupie.
I follow him (virtually) all over the world.

Have a look and a laugh at how he put my review together, and then maybe also consider ordering his book. I guarantee you’ll work up some heat with all the ha ha’s.  Click on this link to see the review:  http://nedhickson.com/2014/02/02/according-to-this-review-my-book-could-be-the-next-magic-8-ball/

Cheers to the Super Bowl winner, whoever you are.