1: Whipping Boy
Our first Real Guys, Real Talk story comes from a friend on the east coast. His story is a testament to the positive impact of building community, particularly on social media. We can accomplish so much growth by connecting with people online who are focused in building one another up to foster healing and personal progress. Thank you for being the kind of father who is setting the example by working on himself and making progress. Thank you for open and vulnerable by sharing your story, brother:
I'm not even sure where to start my story. I have attempted to put it down in words a few times, but it always goes in different directions, usually ending with my being very angry or feeling very sad and exposed and raw. I grew up in an abusive situation, physically and mentally/emotionally. The bottom line is that I was my family's whipping boy. If something went wrong, the mindset was, spank me and then we can start fixing the problem. I kept my sanity growing up by buying in to 3 big lies:
1. Men are mean.
2. I am shameful and don't deserve anything. I have to earn whatever I get, be it material things or immaterial things like love, affection, friendship, time with others, etc.
3. If somebody wants my company or help, then I should let them come to me. Don't offer to help, because they may not want my help or company, and they might think they were hurting my feelings to say no. And I certainly can't ask anybody else for help; I would be imposing on them.
Needless to say, my early years of adulthood were very lonely. I was among people, but I was very guarded and protective. I kept them at an arm's length minimum. More, if I possibly could. I have always had (and continue to have) a very difficult time being vulnerable and honest with other people, especially men. I have a monumental fear of rejection and being picked on. I can smile and wave and chit-chat with just about anybody, but ask me how I'm doing? Fine. I'm doing good. Move on to the next topic.
God is slowly opening me up and healing me. Way too slowly for my preference, but I'm pretty sure if He went any faster, the healing would be incomplete. The month leading up to Christmas was difficult, but I worked through why that was, and I'm coming out of that. My biggest challenge is that I don't have anybody locally who I can talk to as openly as I would like. That left me feeling very alone and sad in the days before.
My sadness over feeling alone right before Christmas got broken when a guy dm'd me "you survived a whole hell of a lot of bullshit!!!!" I don't know where you stand on Christians cussing, but sometimes the curse word carries the meaning better than the non curse word. Regardless, probably the biggest key for me was realizing I have the authority to give myself permission to heal and to be okay.
And THAT guys, is absolutely the key to healing; giving ourselves permission to do so. As men, we must allow ourselves to find strength in the healing process, rather than convince ourselves strength equals ignoring our pain. Putting in that work is emotionally similar to physical work that gives us callouses. By healing, we form a protective coating (gain wisdom) so we can properly manage similar experiences that may otherwise wound us in the future.
What are you doing to allow healing and build the callous of emotional wisdom?
Thank you for reading, and continuing to help grow a community of mentally strong men. If you would like to share your own story, send it our way in text, audio, or video format!
Lets get real, guys.