We’re forced to be braver than we actually are, and whilst some seem to get along with their lives just fine.
A few don’t — and depending on the path they may choose; they either become abusers or the abused, maybe even both.
I can’t remember the last time I cried, and it haunts me that I didn’t cry at my grandmother’s funeral — instead I just kinda knew instinctively I had to be brave; even though I’m far from it.
This isn’t a reflection of comparing genders, neither is this some sort of emotional bait to try and justify inappropriate behaviour.
This is just my story and it’s all it is. I’m not assuming other’s dealt with similar feelings of which how I did, but I’m old enough to be able talk about something I think would’ve made a difference.
If only I’d be allowed to cry in public.
At pre-school, I was a reject, I spoke differently and found it easier to bond with my teachers rather than the students.
I wasn’t trying to be a teacher’s pet, I was just looking for someone mature; because that’s who I related to.
“Man up”, is what I’d get told when I complained of bullying.
So eventually I just stopped complaining; bottling up emotions.
Just shortly before I confessed to my parents how I didn’t feel happy, and they took me seriously, I had been forced to stand without a sweater on in the middle of the school grounds for a week, at the peak of winter, by my gym teacher — because it would “Toughen” me up.
I see a lot of conversation going on about how men treat women, how we need to appropriate behaviour — I guess in my experience, had it not been for the women who came to empathise with me instead of laughing out loud; I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Society expects men to be “tough” — the idea of the alpha male is often projected in the media, as a “meat-head who’ll bash anybody in a bar”.
If that’s the idea of the alpha male, I’m proud I’m not one.
I’m introverted, I like books, and I guess I do a lot of things that ‘sissies’ do.
Except I guess I’m successful now so people can easily fake respect for me.
It’s beside the point now, become I’ve become so indifferent to people’s intention; I hardly ever want anything to do with anybody else.
I’ve been desensitised over the years after being told to “toughen-up”.
Maybe all the years of being told to toughen up, helped making me into an emotionally numb zombie and may have even helped me develop a thicker skin; but it’s not for lack of trying that I am sensitive to the fact that when I see others in the same position as my younger self and am unable to help — it hurts me deeply.
I wish I could should out loud and let people know, “Don’t train your kid to toughen-up, train them to be empathetic.”
But I’m nor a parent nor a guidance counsellor.
If it hadn’t been for university, I don’t think I would’ve realised there were others who felt the same way I did.
“Men don’t cry” — but we do.
Just not in public.
If I were to measure the amount of times my pillow was soaked with tears growing up, It’d be enough to fill a few gallons probably.
But I stopped measuring, and I can’t remember why I stopped crying; or exactly when the people that once told me to “toughen up” broke down in tears whilst I failed to do so.