Have you cried…an ugly, nasty cry? Seeking healthy manhood!
Have you really cried…I mean ugly cry. The cry that you want no one to see, yet it feels so much better after it is all over.
I only witnessed my father cry one time, and I will never forget it. I was so confused, did not understand…but watched mhim never talk about that day ever again. Joseph Gelfer writes in his latest exploration titled “We Need to ‘Undefine’ Masculinity” and exploration of gender roles and how we define this idea of what it means to be a man.
“I would resist the idea of “becoming a man” because it suggests that being a man is a specific thing. That said, I feel at my most manly by regular standards in father mode, when providing for my family. Everything before being a parent feels less substantial.”
The last two months, I have cried more than I have cried in the last ten years. Big, ugly cries! Tears…flowing, gushing, ugly tears.
I cry when I do not know what the fuck else to do. I have been told my bad language is one that turns people away, suggests I am less articulate in my word choice, and even a faux pas in this southern, social norm. But sometimes you just need to say it…
FUCK! HOLY FUCKING SHIT
The last two months have been the craziest of my life. I cannot believe that we survived…and I truly believe the reason is because I am becoming closer to understanding my need to emotionally release. Some main stream pop culture individuals call this being more vulnerable, some call it “being real”, I just see it as being completely unfiltered and untethered.
The night Sarah woke me up at 3:30am on June 10th, the day the twins were born, she shook me out of bed because our bedroom and bathroom look like a hospital emergency room after a major trauma.
Rushing into the bathroom, watching my beautiful wife sob in fear, calling our OB to find out what the hell is going on…then watching what look like George’s placenta fall to the floor…OVERWHELMING.
We were told by our OB to drive pass the local hospital straight to the hospital in Greenville with the level one NICU. All I could think is get Sarah up, in the car, get someone over to the house to watch Rose, and haul ass.
After getting Sarah’s sister on the phone, she rushed over at 3:45am to sleep on the couch so Rose would not have to be woken. As she walked up onto the porch, I grabbed her, hugged her, and cried…big ugly, scary cry. I cried so loud. I cried because I had no other rational emotion that could funnel all the elements from that night…I needed tears and I needed them right then and there.
I needed to yell.
I needed to LET IT OUT! I needed to release so I could focus on taking care of Sarah.
I needed to cry so I could be in a supportive state of mind when she cried.
Why do we as men not openly cry more. Why do we pick other aggressive methods of release rather than crying. Is it because we might be called a girl…oh…I said it…you know you men were thinking it…
It has nothing to do with gender, crying. Yes, that one emotion we are equipped to leverage when we cannot handle all the internal strife, the visual overloads, and that emotional bottleneck. WE MUST BEAT CHEST BECAUSE WE ARE MAN…GRUNT…NO CRY
What the fuck! (BTW, it is kind of liberating to write that phrase.)
As I sit here and watch my two boys sleep, I wonder…what type of men will they be? What type of men will I help raise? Will I help them step outside of the man box?
One of the best things that happened to me, experience having Rosebud before having our twin boys. It has nothing to do with getting in-touch with my sensitive side, yet has everything to do with understanding that raising a daughter will help me raise good men. What does it mean to be good men? I do not know, I am still learning. But I know it is not a few things:
1. Talks down to women
2. Sees women as lesser
3. Objectifies women
4. Uses aggression as the only method to communicate
5. Be-littles others
6. Does not know how to cry
We are surrounded by this white male complex of wanting more, having complete power and control, and using aggression as our only form of communication. We are better than that, we are smarter than that, we are better men than…THAT.
Some will wonder what spurred me to write these words, examine this idea of manhood. I have been thinking about it for years. I watched my father leave my mother multiple times, watched his multiple marriages, and have always been in search of what it means to be a good father.
I have worked with domestic violence shelters, interviews dozens of women abused physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have watched men in my own family treat their wives as objects, individuals to submit to their own selfish needs. I see it on television, on social media, in mainstream media this white male dominated misogynistic culture surrounding power and control.
I ask myself…do I have what it takes to raise good men. Will we be able to teach them to know what it means to be a good human, a good man, respect for others, love their sister like their brother, have affection for their mother, and share their emotions in a healthy way?
Do not get me wrong, by no means am I talking about reclassifying gender roles in a manner that does not allow our twins boys to enjoy healthy manhood. But, I am thinking through the lens that I want our boys to grow to become examples of good, hard working, honest, loving men.
Where are these mainstream conversations about raising good men. Who is having them? Are we scared to have them in our social circles. Is it ok for father’s to sit around while having beers and talk about what it means to raise good men? When is it ok to drop the F-Bomb, cry, be vulnerable? Can we find vulnerability in saying a bad word the same way we see crying. But…that is not the point, what does it mean to find healthy ways to release and share emotions.
That night, and many nights after the twins were born, crying was purposeful. It was a release. It was a connected moment with those around me who witnessed this emotion. We should be so grateful to find those moments where we can share our emotions in a healthy way, setting examples for our young men who will witness and follow along.
We must find new leaders who cry, laugh, share, and experience life through the lens of healthy masculinity. It is our legacy.
What a beautiful, honest post. I love everything about it. Gives me hope for our messed-up world, in which both women and men bear so much hurt from the way women are treated, that the future will be better. Thank you for writing this.
Hey there friend! You are an inspiration to me. I love your books and I love how you communicate so well through your children’s books. I am venturing out into a new world, taking everything I have written so far and putting into a book. I would love your insights, advice, and even where to begin in this world of publishing. This post has touched so many people with so much wonderful feedback…it inspired me to take the content and create something for a broader audience. Thank you for being so awesome!