As men we were raised to be tough, don’t be a sissy, don’t be weak and above everything don’t cry. We were given permission to be one of two things, angry or happy, but we were not given the direction or permission to feel deeply, to love outwardly and express our feelings freely.
Unfortunately such a narrative has led to generations of us who feel, but don’t express those feelings, we keep them tucked away neatly, not because we don’t know how to express them or can’t find the words, but because the society we live in has muddied the very notion of doing so.
We are expected to be assertive, fear nothing, lead the pack, be the quintessential Alpha Male at all times, but what that unrealistic expectation has done is put us in a position where we now feel as if we can’t express our emotions without the judgement and criticism of being soft. And God forbid we cry!
I remember I went on a date with a girl when I was 22 and we went to see the movie ‘ The Pursuit of Happyness’, and for those of you who have seen this movie you know it naturally tugs at the heart strings. We sat watching the movie and I felt the tears as they burned my eyes and rolled down my cheek and the girl turned to me with a look of both confusion and disgust and asked accusingly “Are you Crying?!” her tone proved she was both shocked and possibly embarrassed for me and I denied it. Needless to say we never spoke again and it was a very long time before I ever had the courage to let someone see that side of me.
The whole notion of not sharing how I felt added to my depression and mental isolation but through much therapy and prayer I have learned to give myself permission to feel, to express myself fully and cry when I feel like crying rather than wait for society to tell me when it’s ok. It’s not popular, but popularity doesn’t save lives or heal minds.
Men, I encourage you to forget the narrative that us expressing our feelings is not manly, forget the idea that people will think you are soft, and allow yourselves to feel and express those feelings openly, unapologetically and without shame. Know that vulnerability is a sign of great strength and not being vulnerable is where true weakness dwells.
If you or someone you know is looking for a Men’s support group please feel free to contact HOAM, we are here to help.