He must feel his hurt in order to develop compassion and strength, to hold the hurt of his partner.
“Those who do not weep, do not see.” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
And only then can he be fully trustworthy to her. Only then can he be the man she dreams of. Only then can he…
- Stand in the fire with her.
- Stay calm when she cannot.
- Hold her when she is struggling.
The Man Box
And it is here, a question that women often ask me gets answered.
“How come my man is so shut down?”
I often say, he was raised to be that way as a boy. He was taught feeling…
- Fear makes him a “wimp.”
- Joy makes him “gay.”
- Sadness makes him a “sissy.”
- And anger makes him “manly.”
He was raised in “The Man Box.” A restricted container, confining him to a limited range of emotions. It started at age five or even earlier – at school on the playground or at home with his father or brother.
“Be a man.”
“Suck it up.”
The Man Box dilutes his gifts as an adult male. Compromises his access to compassion, patience, love, kindness, presence, and a range of emotions. In The Man Box, he lives in a black and white world, his freedom to live as an enlivened, vibrant man severely handicapped.
To get out of The Man Box, he must fight… until his death, until his old way of masculinity dies. And then he can reclaim his emotional life.
But he won’t go there until it’s clear his current life is clearly no longer working. Until crisis hits. Until he loses things and loved ones. Until he taps his tears.
What he must realize is this.
“Only boys keep their cheeks dry.
Only boys are afraid to cry.
Men thank God for their tears.”
-Rain, Vachel Lindsay
And in time, he learns…
Tears are a gift.
Tears release energy.
Tears are peacemakers.
Tears bring peace to a man’s oppressed heart.
Tears increase his rate of survival.
Tears strengthen his bond with others.
Tears make men richer
Tears of the heart contain the chemical leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and improves mood.
Tears do not rob a man of his masculinity. In fact, they refine his masculinity. From heartbreak, he learns his healthy powers of assertion, supplanting old patterns of violent aggression.
Tears do not make a man a woman. They make him an emotionally richer and more empathic man. A man to whom the world can relate. A man who can fight for what is right in the world, instead of just what’s right for his wallet.
Tears enable a man to be in a strong relationship with himself, in order to be in a strong relationship with his partner, his family, and the world. Yes, back to self-relationship for a healthy partnership.
I have shed many tears myself. Over the last five years, in particular. Enduring and battling old selves that needed to die. Ritualizing grief in death. Crying tears for life.
The death of a marriage.
The death of a career.
The near-death (amputation) of a leg.
The death of a country.
Tears washed away the muck in my soul, begging to be cleansed.
Written by Stuart Motola
Originally appeared in Stuart Motola
What does it mean to be a man?
Does it mean he has to be invincible? Emotionless? A person who has no feelings? Someone who is not allowed to cry? If crying makes them any less of a man, then we need to immediately change our mentality as a culture. If strong women can cry, then so can strong men. It’s time to get rid of all the double standards and start appreciating the men who do cry…because they are the real men.