Trying to learn about what goes on in a man’s mind has not been an easy task these last few years. I have faced ridicule from women who think I’m too soft on men. On the flip side, dealing with men that are unable to deal with their own truths or those of their male counterparts has been difficult. However, to increase emotional intelligence, one must continue to fairly seek out those truths people refuse to see when it comes to the emotional growth of both sexes and our abilities to interact with each other in a healthy way.
The beginning of this journey was a selfish one; I was seeking to find the missing links in my own life that didn’t quite hit the mark on many occasions. As I continued to move along on the path, it became apparent that what was originally meant for me should undoubtedly be shared with others for the sake of mutual acceptance. One particular area of interest: what really happens when a man cries or on the reverse, doesn’t cry?
There are some women who say when a man cries, he is fortunate enough to be in touch with his emotions. Others have the “oh, please, he must be weak” mentality if they hear so much as a quiver in a man’s voice or sees so much as a tear drop on his face. Understanding the depth and breadth of a man’s tears is something most women rarely appreciate or even give a second thought. Being groomed to “man up” or to have a tough skin has a tremendous emotional impact on males. History has taught so many of them very early on that “real men” simply don’t cry. Even when they come from a family that accepts tears as a normal emotional release, society quickly squashes the notion that it’s okay to cry unless it is for a funeral. On the other hand, women are known to cry all the time; it’s not only accepted but at times expected.
Some time ago, I had a conversation with a man who was noticeably broken. One day, enough was enough! It reminded me of other conversations I’d had with broken men in the past. There was a family member who lost a relationship, a person who couldn’t accept divorce and losing his kids, and then another who lost the job of his dreams because of one bad judgment. These men grieved immensely from their situations. All but one allowed the tears to flow. In that one, I could hear the tears in his voice through the phone.
Though I could hear the pain, I wondered what kept him from release as he said over and over again “don’t make me cry; men don’t do that.” I took that to mean that he didn’t want to look “weak.” He was in a safe zone, but still wouldn’t release the pain. It made me angry. I wanted to scream out to the masses:
- Judging those in pain causes greater pain to the individual who is hurting.
- Men have feelings just like women and have the right to express them.
- Why does a man have to suck up the burdens of life and not flinch or risk being less than a man?
When a man gets to the point that he breaks down, the enormity of the emotional pain is so unbearable that there are practically no words left to describe it. A few are comfortable enough to do this around their mothers or significant others, but to do so around a friend, counselor or even a coach is not even a consideration for these hurting souls. It is in these times of pain that they still ponder:
- How will the others around me react?
- How can I save face once this is over?
- Will this one breakdown make me look weak or incompetent?
We all know there are those few who cry at the drop of the hat, but I’m not referring to these men. The men I’m referring to are the ones who are supposedly unshakeable. These are the men people rely on to be there when they can’t handle things – they are the rocks, the foundations, and the burden bearers. These are the men who cry in silence, unheard.
As a woman, this lesson has taught me that if a man trusts you enough at the most vulnerable point in his life, consider it a gift. His is allowing you to have an exclusive look into the heart he seeks so much to protect. We are all here doing the best we can but if our best includes supporting each other on ALL levels of life, imagine the harmony we can produce when we stop judging and instead accept those who mean the most to us for who they really are. The acceptance you give could very well be the first step to the beginning of their healing process AND yours!