I’ve been told on many occasions that I am emotionally challenged, AKA emotionally constipated. It was actually a recurring theme in my last relationship because I rarely showed emotion on anything. Whether it was being ‘lovey dovey’, watching ‘chick flicks’ with my girlfriend or, the worst one of them all, crying, I never was into any of that. I know I said ‘into’ as if it’s a thing that you can just all of a sudden ‘like’ to do, but that’s how I felt about it. Before. Now that I am single, I’ve had quite some time to think about this and break free from being emotionally constipated.
Without going into the depths of how society breeds, or tries to breed archetypal ‘men’ and ‘women’, I will say that your surroundings really do play a large role in why men, more than women, are emotionally challenged. I read/studied/watched documentaries about all this back in college when I had to take anthropology and sociology classes, but I never really thought about it until just a couple of weeks ago. I always thought, ‘hey, that’s cool for them, but I’am not like that’. Instead of just generalizing about emotional constipation, I want to talk about how I was emotionally challenged and what I did to break away from it.
One big aspect of why I was this way, was because I refused to show any emotion. Now, we all know that women, more than men, tend to be a little more emotional when it comes to certain things, like their reaction to a new-born baby or puppy or to someone who has passed. In these same cases I would feel weird or out-of-place instead of showing joy or, for lack of better words, melting with cuteness overload. No, I would be ‘yeah, whatever, it’s a baby, so what‘. Why was that? Why was I the way I was? I don’t like playing the blame game anymore, but a big part of it is how we as young boys/men are inundated from day one with images of what a ‘man’ is supposed to be, someone who is: tough, strong, fearless, muscular, badass, sex driven manly men. From movies, tv shows and sports, that’s what men are supposed to be. No where is there any adjectives for sensitive, caring, kind, nurturing. Society says that’s not what ‘men’ are supposed to be. You have a problem? Deal with it on your own. Someone punks you? Then that someones going to get fucked up. You want to get hot girls? Work out and gain muscle. No where is there room left for what should be the most important aspect: feelings. Boys/men are conditioned to not feel anything. You fell down and scraped your knee? Stop being a little bitch and deal with it. Your parents weren’t there for you growing up? Why are you being such a girl about it? These phrases keep guys in a certain box and doesn’t leave any room to break out. I was in this box and didn’t realize how small it was until just recently.
Like I said before, I refused to show emotion to anything that wasn’t ‘manly‘. I was a rock according to my ex. I refused to be moved. Nothing can chip me away. Babies? Psh, whatever. Children playing? I hate kids (I mean, I still do, just not as bad as I used to hahaha!). Now I said refused to show emotion. I learned to keep those ‘non-manly’ emotions in check. I still felt emotion, I just refused to let it out. My personal choice of emotion, according to my ex, was anger. It made me like a rock, invincible to anything that was thrown at me. When I was angry, nothing could touch me and I just ‘steam rolled’ anything that got in my way. When I was angry, I could care less for anyone else and that’s probably why I latched on to that feeling: because it prevented me from caring. I would stay angry for days. It wasn’t like the normal persons anger where it subsides after a few minutes or couple hours. Looking back on it now, I would compare it to smoking crack (no, I have never smoked crack): you love that ‘high’ feeling but you don’t see what it does to you over the long run. And damn was I smoking lots of crack.
There were two things I refused to do: cry and apologize. I hated apologizing. I hated admitting I was wrong or something was my fault. Apologizing felt like defeat. I mean, I still said it, but the frequency of saying it as opposed to how often something was my fault was very low. I was also not a crier. At all. Even when I felt extreme sadness, I refused to cry. Watching a drama like Green Mile? Nope, not gonna cry. Someones relative died? I never said my condolences. It just felt so alien to me that I never said that phrase. Yes, it was that bad. When my life got flipped turned upside down a couple of months ago, I latched on to my only emotion, which was anger. I was angry that I wasted 7 years of my life. It was her fault for this happening. I latched on to my anger so I didn’t have to cope with the reality of what actually happened; and that reality was that it was my fault. When I realized that, I stopped being angry. I stopped blaming. I stopped being me. It’s sad that it had to take leaving my girlfriend, my best friend of 7 years, for me to realize all this and break out of my tiny box. It really is bitter-sweet in a way; if this never had happened, I wouldn’t be sitting here, 2 months later, writing about emotional constipation and how wrong it is to not show emotion and I would still be the same old shitty me.
What helped the most, which I am not afraid to admit this (now), is that I cried. I ended up crying. A lot. It was years of ‘crys’ that I threw in the bucket just overflowing and was spilling out everywhere. I didn’t know how to deal with this new feeling, this new emotion of sadness and despair. I didn’t know how to stop it. So I didn’t. I cried rivers. Rivers. This worked for me. By crying, all those emotions that I kept buried for so long slowly rose up and buried my ‘manly‘ emotions. I was no longer emotionally constipated. From that day, the real me has come out under the mire and muck of the old, shitty me. I re-learned how to feel and show emotion. I re-learned how to apologize and admit I was wrong. I had the courage to admit to my ex that I was wrong, that I was the problem. I had the courage to admit my feelings that I kept hidden from her for 7 years. I cried in front of her, something I never did. I had the courage to be me. Like Kelly Clarkson said, ‘since you’ve been gone, I can breathe for the first time‘ (I know it’s weird because its me talking about me. Or the new me saying that to the old me). Not only have I come to terms with my emotions and what has happened, I also look at life differently. I don’t treat people the same way I did before. I don’t look at people the same way I did before. Nothing is too gay or too girly. Nothing is too ‘beneath’ me. Oh, and I blog now too (as if you couldn’t tell).
Now, I’m not saying I am crying at every single little thing that happens. No, I am still a dude. A real dude who now shows emotion. Real dude 3.7. New born babies? How cute! Look at his/her nose! Their hands are small I know! But they’re not yours they are my own… That’s a cute ass puppy! I am no longer afraid to see it how it is, call it like it is and feel it like it is. If something happens that requires emotion, no longer will I be a rock that refuses to be moved; I will move myself. The rock has moved. The rock will continue to be moved.
So here is the pro-tip for all the guys (and some girls) out there who grew up being emotionally constipated: if you are feeling anything, whatever it is, GIVE A SHIT. Or take a shit. Or share a shit. Two shits are always better than one. I don’t care, just don’t block it. Don’t think twice about it. If you feel like you’re going to melt from the insides because of the cuteness overload of a baby, you feel like you are going to cry because you or one of your friends lost a loved one, you feel like your mom/dad/brother/sister/friend needs a hug and an ear to listen, just do it. Just go with it. Because let me tell you, if you keep yourself in a little emotional box, it will break; don’t wait for something life changing for you to realize that you do have feelings. Being a man isn’t just about being tough, fearless and strong; it’s also about being kind, emotional, sensitive, humble and understanding. Nothing is too girly. Nothing is gay. Nothing is homo. Go cry. Go tell someone you love them. Tell them how much they mean to you. Tell your parents you are thankful for them. Apologize if its your fault. Tell you friend/s they are awesome. Be you, because life is a lot better when you give a shit. 😛
Speaking of rocks being moved, this has nothing to do with what I posted, but I thought of it while writing. Enjoy!