What it means to be a man today and try to feel. Session 1-12
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Hi i'm john. ive been asked by Alan to talk a little bit about what it feels like to be a man in a society that tries to define who I am and what I feel. He has asked me to try and be as open as I can and to be able to share with you a little about my story. So no small task then.
I have known Alan for a long time and so when he asked me to write this blog I thought that it would be for a good cause. Im not saying it dosnt fill me with dread and a feeling that people are going to see inside who I am. Who i am without all the social niceties, fake smiles and attempts not to become a complete social hermit living on an island in the middle of the ocean (which is often a place i would prefer to be). He offered me anonymity and the offer a new name. I might have prefered Thor or Clarke kent but for now John will do.
He has given me free reign over what i want to talk about and so I agreed to a 12 week blog of thoughts and feelings of what it is like to be a man named John in todays world. Ill try not to make it too dry or too exagerated (as i have a tendancy towards) but to try and give people an insight into some of the pressure I feel being a divorced, now single, hetrosexual man in his late fourties. This is by no means a tale of all men or a tale of many men, this is a tale of one man. John doe.
I should probably start by saying that i havnt always been sad. At least I dont think so. I have felt that i cant be 100% happy but that might just be my sunny disposition or my life of contradictions. Contradictions are one of the many forces i think play in the world of the man. This section I will have a think about what this means to me and maybe to you too, who knows!
What is a contradiction but acting one way but feeling something completely different. Its no wonder that this might feel like being compleatley dismissed. My pain, sadness and frustration pushed aside and ignored. I often feel this is done by someone else, by my mother, brother, friend but who its actually done by is me. Thats a really difficult thing to admit to so im glad its anonymous.
Im told by everything around me, films, tv programs, adverts for aftershave, by the players of my football team that to be successful dosnt mean being in tears, wingeing about how my life has not been what i wanted it to be, or imagined it to be. Im told that to cry is shameful. That if i do i must be weak or less of a man and more of a ‘ big girls blouse ‘ as my dad used to put it. Not quite sure what a big girls blouse has to do with feeling sad but there you go.
Maybe its best to give you an example of the pressure i feel when it gets too much for me? Lets take yesterday. I was invited by a friend of mine to catch up on zoom while watching a football match that is on this evening. We were to meet up via zoom and it would be like it used to be when all this madness wasnt happening. We could chear on our team, swear at the ref. and have a good few pints into the bargin.
Now for the last few days i have been feeling really down. Ive been missing my daughter that i only see a couple of weekends a month as she is with her mum, my ex. This lockdown has meant that these little things like spending time with my guilt about the separation and sense of loss has really festered inside of me. I have been moping around and trying to rationalise that it was for the best and that i did the right thing but with my fathers voice telling me that I should be a man and stay to provide for my family, what need have I of happiness or a relationship that isnt filled with anger and upset? So long and short of it I suppose what i wanted to do was crawl on the couch, watch an old black and white film and slowly sink into the familiar pit of sadness that will agree im a shit and that im in my rightful place as a consequence. (Exagerated? Maybe but near to the picture i have that often pervades my mind).
So Philip calls and says, ‘ how about it mate? We cant go to the pub but at least we can have a laugh and few pints while we watch the game? ‘ Now what am i supposed to say at a time like this? ‘ no mate, sorry im feeling really sorry for myself and really sad. Id prefer if we gave it a miss for the the match this week. Ive been in tears for much of the morning and i think im just going to sit in my pit of dispair and count the ways the world has wronged me.... maybe next week?’
No this would open up so many awkward silences and prob end any further offer of any other social meet up. So what do i do? I bear it! I say yea sounds good mate lets do that. Maybe the distraction will help? You never know? Except all i feel now is that theres now this massive job i have to do. I have to now pretend everthings fine, laugh, smile, joke and talk about how the girl that i used to flirt with in the office would be great company right about now.
The mask has to come down and I need to keep it in check. This to me is the contradiction I often have to live with. The contradiction of how im feeling to what people are seeing. I dont know as if it was my mate saying he was down and needed a sholder to cry on I would be there. But thats not what society, news, my history, movies, tv, books or the little voice inside my head tells me.
Well what a miserable sod you must think I am?
Id better pop back this mask on and give Philip a ring to say that unfortunately the bloody internets down and so i cant make it afterall. Maybe next time. Maybe.
So I guess i needed to start this blog somewhere and here it is. Dont worry, only another 11 to go....