In tingly anticipation of Carlos Andrés Gómez new book entitled Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood, here’s a blog by the man himself. I’m hoping he considers swinging by Toronto on his upcoming book tour.
Today is a heavy day – mere hours removed from a scary shooting outside the Empire State Building and news just now coming in of another one just south of Mexico City where my sister lives. Having lost my grandmother less than three weeks ago, it has been a heavy month. Grappling with all of the aforementioned has had me thinking a lot about how men are taught to manage grief and the extreme alienation so many feel as a result. It’s something I unfortunately know all too well.
I’ve been forced to confront a lot of grief in my life. Before I’d graduated high school, I had already lost close friends and family to gun violence, suicide, car accidents, and cancer. On most of those occasions, upon hearing the unexpected and devastating news, my focus quickly shifted from being crushed by the overwhelming grief of losing someone I loved to hastily compartmentalizing that pain and then immediately squelching how I expressed it.
I was fifteen when I heard about my closest childhood friend being killed in a car accident, and I will never forget this tremendous burden I felt to “stay strong” and “tough my way through it.” I didn’t want anyone to know how much I was hurting. I didn’t want to ask for help. I accepted it as a given that I would bottle up all of my emotions and deal with them alone. I took great pride (at the time) in the fact that I excused myself from the table to cry alone in the bathroom after my father told me the news. I never shed one tear in front of my sister and dad, and it somehow felt like undeniable proof that I was finally ready to be a man. I quietly celebrated that moment of shutting myself down emotionally, as though it were an accomplishment. I wore it like a badge of honor that I could conceal the hurricane of emotions in my chest.
Now if only I could not cry at ALL, I thought to myself, Wow, now that would be a real man.
I have watched so many men in life buy into this same misguided and self-destructive narrative. Men who I love and deeply respect, who have talent and gorgeous, epic hearts but drown all the magic they have inside in bottles of Jack Daniels or numb it away with needles or through pipes or with gambling.
I want all of those men to know that the uncontrollable, unplanned storms inside their chests are not only nothing to be afraid of but are, in fact, their greatest gifts to this world. They are the things that must be expressed and shared and, even, celebrated.
Read the rest of this post on Carlos Andrés Gómez’ blog.