“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”
― Jonathan Swift
“… for men, the overarching message is that any weakness is shameful. And since vulnerability is often perceived as weakness, it is especially risky for men to practice vulnerability.”- Brene Brown
I once had a man tell me he was worth more dead than alive. He stated that his life insurance was a hefty sum of money and that if he died his family would be “all set.” This literally brought me to tears. What’s worse, is I was unable to help this man understand that he was worth so much more than money. He could not hear me say that his kids needed his hugs and kisses more than they needed a tablet. He would not listen when I said that his wife needed his reassurance and love more than a new car. In fact, the only thing stopping him from suicide was that the clause in his life-insurance that stated it would not pay out in the event of suicide.
Men, you are worth so much more than your career and your money. I know so many of you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders at three in the morning. I know you hide your tears behind rage and anger. I know you aren’t allowed to be afraid because being fearful makes you look weak. I’m so sorry that we’ve taught you that you’re only allowed to express your feelings through rage. I’m so sorry that we’ve taught you that you must be strong all the time. We set impossible expectations and then shame you when you don’t meet them.
Men, I know that you’ve experienced shame for expressing needs and emotions. I know you were told to toughen up when you cried as a child. I am so sorry we did this to you. It takes a tough man to cry and we lied to you when we told you it was weak. I am so sorry you were taught that your only value was in the form of zeros on your paycheck. Men, please believe me when I say, you are worth so much more than your title at work.
Men, I am sorry that we never told you that a deep and meaningful partnership is built on vulnerability and openness. I am sorry that you were taught that it was all on you to make it work. I am sorry that we never taught you how to be soft and kind with the people you love. I wish you knew it would be okay if you stayed home with the kids and your wife worked. I wish you knew that you could be a starving artist and still be worthy of love. I wish you knew that the image of masculinity does not capture what it means to be human. I wish you knew that you are lovable even without any money.
Men, you do not have to be rich to be loved. You don’t have to be aggressive (in fact, this will make you lonely and scary and confused). There are so many messages that tell you that the weight of the world is on your shoulders. I know this causes immense shame and feelings of inadequacy. I know you hide your sadness and fear under a coat of rage or distance. I know that leaves you feeling lonely and unloved.
Men, please believe me when I say, you are worth so much more than your paycheck. You don’t have to toughen up or stop crying. And, please try to take better care of yourself. It’s tough out there.
“Men walk this tightrope where any sign of weakness illicits shame, and so they’re afraid to make themselves vulnerable for fear of looking weak”. ~ Brené Brown