Everyone knows . . . real men don't eat quiche. Or wear pink. Or cry in movies. Or caress his partner tenderly and express his love.
Real men are strong. Silent. Stoic. Real men stand alone, outside socialization, relying only on themselves. If they differ, they aren't real men.
They are wimps. Wussies. Girly boys. They are looked down upon, made fun of and sneered at.
Being a real man, we believe, is our only choice for going through life respected and loved. It's also killing us.
In a fantastic article in the British newspaper The Telegraph, author Poorna Bell talks about how her husband' suicide caused her to reflect on the horrible price men pay for trying to live up to the strong, self-sufficient, stoic stereotype of the real man. Her book, Chase the Rainbow, is part journalism and part memoir.
in an article in today's The Telegraph, Bell talks about how her husband, who fought depression all his life, faced the end of his life.
"In May 2015, he took his own life, unable to see a future in which he wouldn’t still be fighting his illness, unable to reconcile what he thought he was versus what he believed a man should be.
In one of his last messages to me, he said he couldn’t live with being bankrupt, an addict, mentally ill. This speaks heartbreaking volumes of how he saw himself at the end – someone no longer valuable to society. "
Please take the the time to read this article. Who knows? It might change your life. Being open to the possibility of male emotional life can be difficult, though it can be done.
It is almost impossible for most men in our society to reach out and ask for help. Especially if the help we need is of a non-physical nature. Actually allowing someone to know we are mentally not at the top of our game, that we have allowed emotions to make us week. . . That is unforgivable.
I'm lucky. In more ways that one.
In my case, when I'd reached my bottom, found myself in the bottom of a pit with one way out and no one in my life willing to let down a rope to help me climb back to the light, I was able to ask for help.
I found someone caring enough, empathetic enough to help me understand there was nothing wrong with me because I had emotions that were controlling me instead of the other way around.
I found a therapist who could understand me, to help me understand myself. She helped me to realize that those nights during which I didn't - couldn't - sleep because the sadness and futility would wash over me, near drowning for weeping, were part of a natural process. That to deny the pain, the loneliness and fear was unnatural.
Only by experiencing them, working to understand them, could I become healthier and move forward in my life.
Men are supposed to be strong. Their one objective is to never be seen as weak. Asking for help is seen as weak. To survive, to become whole people, we have to be strong enough to allow others to seee us as weak.
Men don't have to suffer alone, don't have to suffer because we think we have to be alone. We can reach out for help, accept that help and become a real man.
Not some cardboard cutout of a person, masking the roaring rage monster we've created within.
All we we have to do is ask.