“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.”
– Carl Jung
Please allow me to get this possible controversial bit of opinion out of the way: most men, especially latino men, are a ridiculously stubborn bunch.
Goodnight folks, thank you for coming! *walks off stage while being pelted with rotten eggs and vegetables*
In all seriousness, as far back as I can remember we have been raised, programmed, and indoctrinated to be alpha males, hunters and gatherers, strong, unbreakable, stoic, etc. Human males are expected to be the protector, the guardian, the provider, yada yada yada yada ad nauseam.
You see it all the time in old school TV shows, sitcoms, and movies, those classic tropes:
The Portrait of a Real Man – back in the 70’s; *insert sarcastic social commentary here*
“Men talking about their feelings? Are you serious?! What’s wrong with you?!”
“The only “men” that talk about their feelings are either gay, emo, or both!”
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t bombarded with that macho, testosterone-laced rhetoric, day in, day out, constantly.
And bullied, beaten, and criticized for thinking and feeling otherwise.
There’s that word again.
Seriously guys, you didn’t see that one coming?!
I understand that we live in a day and age where our senses are constantly violated through the media, having the “ideal” image of what a man and woman should be casually shoved down our throats, without realizing – or caring – the hurtful impact it has on the general public’s psyche. As a collective, we have become victims of our own fantasies, obsessed with our media darlings, our aspiration to be models, entrepeneurs, tycoons, ninjas, sleek and stylish rogue agents, modern day samurai. We have stunted our emotional growth in order to foster a fairly unattainable lifestyle which leads most people to mental health ruin, among other things.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t strive to be our best, that we shouldn’t attempt to achieve our goals – it’s commendable to challenge yourself on a daily basis, set goals, brainstorm ideas, and find your calling in life; my point is that you have to set those standards WITHIN REASON.
You don’t plan to run a marathon for the first time with the expectation to finish top tier if you’ve never run in your life, do you?
If you do, please seek immediate professional help before you hurt yourself.
The sensible thing to do is to begin to train slowly – start running; set daily, weekly, and monthly goals, patiently creating endurance and strength, both physical and mental – all the while keeping realistic expectations in mind, with the possibility that you may or may not achieve the finish line.
And that’s perfectly fine.
That’s what second chances and opportunities are for.
Unfortunately, a lot of men seem to suffer from what I like to call emotional dysphagia – the inability to swallow your pride.
There has been a very peculiar trend I have been witnessing lately while scrolling through social media – so many brave women finally finding the courage and will to empower themselves, to make themselves be heard, invoking their well-deserved right to be respected, to be taken seriously, taking their lives back, gaining control over their mental illness and molding themselves into these amazing reborn Phoenixes, ready to take on the world through positivity, education, physical fitness, self-motivation, support groups, etc. The most beautiful part is that they empower each other as well, encouraging each other, cheering others on to take the path of resistance and challenge, to overcome, to persevere, to triumph.
Yet in comparison, there are very few men that have taken active roles in taking those examples and help their fellow male brothers out.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying they are not out there.
Sisyphus and the rock – no, not THAT Rock
Huge shoutout to my boy Sisyphus for showing my boys the strength to deal with the eternal struggle – for another great read, check out this article on an inspiring interpretation of the Myth of Sisyphus.
What I am saying is that many men keep silent; they suffer in silence, out of fear of being ridiculed, emasculated, because they might be mentally ill and don’t realize it, don’t want to face it, and are unable to acknowledge it and keep themselves in denial, whether it be out of fear, socio-economic reasons, cultural pressure, or physical/emotional abuse.
And that, my friends is something that needs to be addressed. Pronto.
It took me a very long time to finally accept my mental illness and get the proper treatment. As a male Latino, I was the odd minnow swimming among a school of barracuda, and if I was to be allowed to swim among the predators, I was expected to learn to act like one or else be swallowed whole.
Feelings were for the weak; leave the touchy-feely stuff to the queers and weaklings that can’t fend for themselves – we’ve got beers to chug and bitches to fuck. All of that machismo and bravado dripping from alcohol sweats and insecurity, hiding behind a mask of “strength” through emotional attrition.
Bada-bing-bada-boom, yeah, I’m emotionally progressive and in touch with my feelings – wanna smash?!
And yet behind that veneer of illusory confidence, inflated egos, and puffy chests I posit that inside laid many broken hearts, fractured minds, and wayward souls that wanted to cry out for help, but they didn’t know how – eventually leading to their emotional, and in some cases fatal, downfall.
They fell victim to the ideal of what a “real man” should be.
And that needs to stop.
If you are a man who is currently reading this, you probably have a sensible head on your shoulders, for you’re seeking the same community full of support, compassion, and understanding that we know will lead us to a healthier understanding of ourselves and those around us. Sadly, there are many more of us who aren’t that lucky or receptive. Let’s reach out to them, let’s let them know that it’s ok to lend a helping hand, that it’s not taboo to seek professional psychological and psychiatric help.
Mental illness is a beast that will attack anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation, it does not discriminate according to the color of your skin, it cares not if you believe in God, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Odin, Joe Smith, Xenu or whatever religious denomination you choose to believe in – mental illness transcends all barriers and belief systems.
Forget about the concept of being a “real man”.
Instead, let’s learn how to be genuine, compassionate human beings – the first step is to seek help.