I’m not speaking on behalf of us, but on behalf of myself, to any of us who may need to hear or think about this.
What do I need, right now?
This powerful 2-part question represents what has been missing in my life for a long time and for many reasons.
I couldn’t quite understand this was what was happening at the time, but whenever I would have any kind of unpleasant emotion in relationships, I could not talk about them immediately because I was not able to understand or explain exactly what was triggering me to feel that way, or even what I was feeling. It was just BAD. Since I didn’t know how to communicate in the moment, I often had to remove myself for a while until my the intensity of emotions subsided so that I could think enough to try to think about what had upset me, why it upset me, and in what way had it upset me. A girlfriend of mine used to always say that she felt I was punishing her with silence, but that was never my intent.
In those situations it’s also very hard to admit many of the more specific feelings and explanations that may have turned out to be insecurity, shame, inadequacy, or guilt. Some of that is from pride, but much is that those aren’t acceptable feelings for men to have. We’re supposed to be strong, and tough, and confident always, and if you aren’t than you’re less of a man.
When women struggle with those emotions, is there as much of a cultural implication or interpretation that she’s less of a woman? I don’t think so. From the movies I’ve seen, struggling with and overcoming insecurity is the definition of many women’s narratives.
I don’t think the issue is whether more insecurity means women should be seen as weaker, or that less insecurity means that men should be seen as stronger. I don’t think the type of emotion that a person struggles with should have anything to do with weakness or strength, but only the constitution of bravery they show to face it and own it, and the determination to not let it define them.
My point is that I as a man who is capable of wrestling with insecurities temporarily or chronically, it feels like it’s WRONG for me to struggle with THAT issue AS A MAN. I’m supposed to have some kind of rage problem, that’s a more “typical” and “acceptable” instability for a man to have. Having a rage problem would make me feel like MORE OF A MAN than having problems with insecurity.
This makes it very hard to admit that there are moments where I need help with insecurity. Real men aren’t supposed to need anything, let alone help.
Having a hard time wrapping this one up neatly and it’s late so I’ll come back and maybe split some of my thoughts into 2 posts.