I am not a man well acquainted with feelings. I am a thinker, a philosopher, one whose primary actions center on well-thought out plans coming from the mind. However, recently, I am realizing emotions have much more of a say in my actions than I would like to admit.
I have this ability to gain emotional connections to people. I know, surprising, right? I am the ONLY person in the world with the ability. Nobody else could POSSIBLY understand how I emotionally connect with people.
Okay, so enough sarcasm. In reality, I do grow incredibly close to a select few people in my life. These people I have allowed to influence me and change my emotional state through something as simple as a few words. These people know me inside and out and know what can push my buttons and what can make me feel ecstatic.
I have allowed these people to have that authority in my life because I love them. I feel a special kinship—an emotional bond to them that I cannot describe. Making that connection can be a rather frightening thing because, while it has the potential for so much good, it also can be the instrument for so much pain.
I am realizing this first hand. I have been hurt so much throughout my life. I have had people break my heart and walk all over me. People who I have been closest to have said some of the most hurtful things I have ever heard. I have cried. I have broken down. I have even been depressed from time to time.
Because of this, I have developed this other ability: the ability to cut someone off emotionally from my life in an instant. While I hold them close to my heart, if they hurt me, I can cut them off and quickly jump from, “Oh hey! That guy is my best friend!” to, “Oh hey! We used to be best friends a long time ago!” very quickly—more quickly than most people. I have talked to several people about this, and they say it is very unhealthy for me to do because I never go through the process of loss and grief.
To an extent, I believe them. I do need to go through grief and process pain when someone hurts me. But at the same time, I have found this is my coping mechanism. Each person develops their own defensive mechanisms when dealing with stress and pain. Mine happens to be cutting people off.
In reality, the pain is still there, and I process it, but more privately, in my own mind and in my own way. I still feel the grief, but I let it out in the privacy of my own solitude and deal with it in chunks. People generally don’t see what is going on in my heart and mind. I keep things to myself so I don’t have to elude any sign of weakness. I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems.
At least this is how I used to think. One of the biggest lies in the world for men is that, to be a man, you have to be able to be strong enough to deal with all of your problems by yourself. You have to be the lone wolf, the silent strongman, the lone ranger, the rebellious vigilante who doesn’t need anyone in order to be masculine. Society tells us that in order to be a man; we have to put on this aura like we have everything together. Because that aura is masculine.
This couldn’t be far from the truth.
I am honestly not sure where this paradigm came from and frankly, I don’t care. The point is, it is a lie. Men today are constantly hurting themselves over and over and over again because they feel that talking about emotions are taboo and feminine. Well, to be honest, talking about emotions is somewhat feminine. But if a man wants to be a complete man, then he needs to embrace a bit of femininity to be balanced. Ask any woman out there what they prize in a man, and every one will tell you that they admire a guy who can talk about his feelings in a reasonable way and be sensitive—without being over emotional. Some guys out there take it too far and have what I call emotional diarrhea. (Sorry for that image, but that’s what I feel like when some guy comes up to me a sobbing, emotional mess and just drops it all over me.)
The point is, we need to be open with our emotions. The lie is that if we talk with another person about our emotions, then we must be weak because we can’t deal with it ourselves. Well, I have a news flash for everyone: you are too weak to deal with your emotions on your own. You will never meet a human being on the planet who is perfect and has everything all figured out. Everyone needs somebody else. We are a social people, whether or not we like it. People who shut themselves off from the world become bitter and resentful. We need each other. We need to open up to each other.
Another lie is that if we share our problems, we are just putting a burden on another person. Well, that is partly true, but the lie is in the hidden implication that other people don’t want to handle our burdens. That couldn’t be far from the truth. If you really love someone, you want to help them. You want what is best for them. You would NEVER be burdened if they came to you with a problem. (Unless you, yourself were so burdened with crap that you can’t take on anything else. But if that is the case, then you need to let someone else help you with your burdens so you can help someone else.)
If you are anything like me, you need to understand like I did that people really do care about you and the “burdens” that you carry, really aren’t burdens at all. Our burdens seem so heavy when we carry them, so we don’t want anyone else to have to suffer like we do, but what we don’t understand is that other people have already carried their burdens and let go of them and have developed a strength to be able to carry it effortlessly. They can come along side and help you carry it because they already have developed the strength so it isn’t heavy to them.
I’ll give you a personal example. When my now ex-girlfriend broke up with me a few years ago, I was devastated. I had never loved a woman so much in my entire life. When she broke up with me, she didn’t just say, “Oh, Adam, I think we should meet new people. There are plenty of fish in the sea. I feel like we are growing apart…” yada, yada, yada. She instead decided to bring up every secret I had confessed to her, every personal thing I have ever shared, and used them all against me. As I later described it to a friend, it literally felt like she had performed a Mortal Kombat move and ripped my heart out of my chest, threw it on the ground, stomped on it, breathed fire over it, spit on it, and then shoved it back in my chest as I fell down and the announcer said, “Girlfriend wins!”
I was a shattered mess after that relationship. I did my quick emotional cut from her that I described above, but the pain was still there. But I kept it to myself. I had to carry my burden. I started snapping at those people closest to me who were just trying to help. It took me a while to realize that other people have experienced harsh break ups too. But in my pride and arrogance, I thought I was the only human on the planet to have ever felt this way and that nobody could possibly understand or help me out.
I began the slow process of talking it out with people; sharing a little bit here and there. I found that people had already been there before and had gone through a break up and could help me carry my own burden. To my shock, it didn’t burden them as much as I thought it would. They would smile and reassure me that everything would be okay. I wasn’t a hindrance to them as I thought I was. In fact, they were glad to have me talking to them about it.
The lie is that if we keep our burdens to ourselves that people won’t hurt like we do. But in my own personal experience, I discovered that people hurt anyway. If you are emotionally bonded with another person, when you are hurting, they hurt too. In fact, they hurt more because they know that something is bothering you, but they don’t know what. So they stew over it in their mind, trying to figure it out, and it only causes them more worry and more stress. If I was just upfront with my friends with how I felt, they would be like, “Oh! That’s what’s bothering you? Oh! Why didn’t you say something? That’s nothing, man! We can get through this! I thought it was much worse than what it was. I got your back man.” If I would just share my burden with them to begin with, I could prevent a lot of heartache on their part.
Sometimes people legitimately don’t know what we are going through. I have a personal struggle that I KNOW most people will never understand (but that is a blogpost for another time). What I have learned through sharing is that, even though they may not understand, my friends still want to listen to me and be there for me. They want to be supportive in any way they can. They may not be able to grasp what I am going through, but they know I am hurting and want to help. Sometimes, I let them feel like they are helping when in reality they aren’t doing much. But it makes them feel better. It makes them feel involved in my life. And I appreciate their company, even if they cannot help.
In essence, the TLDR of this is: treasure your friends and keep them close in your life. Don’t cut them out. Don’t arrogantly think that you have it all under control. Let your friends support you. Don’t believe the lie that you have to be a loner to be masculine. Embrace some femininity and you will be rewarded.
I love you all and hope you have a blessed day.
Following his call,