As a teen my outward response to “are you okay” would always be “I’m fine.” Regardless of how I truly felt inwardly, or what I was going through at the time. A staunch outward face of emotional strength unwilling to let anyone past.
Inward was a different picture altogether. I would best describe myself and emotionally fragile and depressed as teen. The pain I felt couldn’t ever be shown – or so I felt. I just let it eat away at me.
I’m trying to move forward to a place were I am able to share and feel my emotions with others. I’m not all that great at it still to be honest. To emote in anyway physically in front of someone still horrifies me and sends my anxiety skyrocketing.
I’m getting more comfortable sharing in places like this online, in many ways it bypasses some of the guilt and shame around not being “emotionally strong.” But I still struggle admitting my emotional needs to others in my real life community.
I know it’s a poor teaching but I still often carry the thought that I have to be “emotionally strong” at all times. Men don’t cry; especially in times of need. They are there to support their “weaker” family member.
Or so I often saw as I grew up. An emotionless void – especially in regards to my father. He may have been “emotional strong,” but he never used that to help us deal with our own emotional struggles. Empathy and emoting your feelings were not encouraged in men. Those were feminine traits, a man doesn’t cry. A man is able to keep his emotions inside.
I see and hear this from my surroundings all the time. Recently a co-worker laughed over an advertisement for therapy for men. All the while downplaying any need for therapy / emotional help for men, or even why the targeted adds would be needed.
“Men with mental illnesses are also less likely to have received mental health treatment than women in the past year. However, men are more likely to die by suicide than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/men-and-mental-health
I’ve since been trying to work on admitting and emoting what I’ve been feeling.
It has had it’s positive moments. Sharing joy and love with my wife and kids. Letting them see my joy, and enjoying their love.
And then there are times when I’m just feeling emotional pain. I don’t have even the best words to describe it. The best way I can present this is a period of feeling low or empty.
I’ve found some ways to open that side of myself to others, but I truly hate the way it leaves me feeling vulnerable. Though I suppose that is entirely why I’ve avoided it in the past. Admitting I don’t have it together is hard.
But here I am. Working on slowly changing that within myself, and I’m admitting I don’t feel okay.