A very important discussion copied from Ryan Reeves at goodmenproject.com!
I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone. — Robin Williams
Most men think we have to do it alone. Bear whatever burden alone. We don’t ask for help. We don’t confess our worries, our sadnesses, our confusion, our despair. We don’t engage other men in vulnerable conversations, and we sure don’t let women know what’s really going on inside us—unless we think doing so will get us laid, or admiration, or something.
We don’t even tell our intimate partners our deepest truths. Yeah, sure, we hear them say they want the truth. But we don’t believe them. One of my close man-friends recently told me he grew up in a home with this core message:
“Always tell us the truth … and we will NOT be able to handle it.”
Somehow I learned that message growing up, too. You?
Another close friend grew up believing he would be abandoned and essentially die if he told a truth he thought might upset his family. He was sexually molested. He told no one and carried the confusing shame alone into adulthood, and then into his marriage. Although he told his wife about the actual event, he didn’t tell her about the unhealthy behaviors he had developed over the years to distract himself from the burden of that memory, notably an addiction to porn and excessive romantic flirtations with women who never knew he was married. His inability to share the depth of his very human challenges nearly sabotaged their marriage when she suddenly found out by looking through his phone.
There’s a core cultural message that says men can’t ever show weakness. We can’t need to rely on anyone, and we can’t make a mistake. If we do, the world will fall apart. Or at least we won’t have an honorable place in it anymore. Our partner will leave us. Or they’ll no longer respect us, in which case they might as well leave us.
So we grin and bear it. We do it ourselves. We bear our own burdens and don’t let anyone else help us carry them. When it gets too heavy, we check out. Run away. Drink it, porn it, ___________ it, TV it, work it, war and rage it out. In those check-out moments, even when we stay in the room, we leave our families and our communities to fend for themselves. We send everything to hell, screw the consequences.
That’s probably why women outlive men. We slowly kill ourselves with unhealthy behavior. Women don’t drive men to an early grave, as comedians would have us believe. We drive ourselves.
At its worst, “grin and bear it” leads men to the gravest act of check-out possible: suicide. What Robin Williams just did. What 22 despairing military veterans will do today, and again tomorrow, and again the next day. What aging NFL football players do to themselves. The same thing many teenage boys do, who die by suicide four times more often than girls.