The article I linked below was posted in a women’s group I’m in, and it needs to be shared far and wide.
There are men I know, men I have dated, men I have married, on both sides of this: men who are doing the hard work to become more emotionally vulnerable, to open up to other men, who are relying on each other and their therapists, and men who aren’t there yet.
Things I am learning about myself after Gary’s death include the now-ingrained understanding that it is not my job to be anyone’s one and only ANYTHING. In my fifty-one years on this planet, my entry into therapy at age twelve, and my twenty-six years with a formal diagnosis, I have always done the hard work. I am a damaged individual, absofuckingtively. I am a product of my genetics and my upbringing and all of the fucked up shit that people have done to me and that I have survived.
That’s the key: I have survived. I have absolutely leaned on others for support, for aid, for guidance. To just listen to me when I am truly inconsolable. When people ask “are you okay???” and my response is “No, I am not.” To actually sit with me and be interested in why instead of ordering drinks.
I have some incredible women friends now, a Squad of Strength, a Posse of Power, a Coven of Courage. These women, my Sisterhood of the Salt are invaluable to me, are precious to me. I don’t ask for permission from them, nor validation that what I’m ever doing is the right thing to do. What my tribe unequivocally offers up to me is a safe place, a place of love and support. A place where I will be listened to, where objective opinions are welcomed. Where difficult questions are asked, and always with care and great love. It isn’t an echo chamber, not in the least. I know that some of what I’m experiencing is tempered by my illness, my neediness, my fear. But these women on the whole continue to ask the good, convoluted-yet-simple questions that make me think hard, and allow me to untangle my feelings around some very tricky situations. All without judgment. All with thoughts towards my safety first.
I don’t know how men can possibly do without this kind of thing.
“Toxic masculinity—and the persistent idea that feelings are a ‘female thing’—has left a generation of straight men stranded on emotionally-stunted island, unable to forge intimate relationships with other men. It’s women who are paying the price.”
Every person should read this article. And do the hard, messy work.