“Hey. You cried LOL.”
Those words stabbed. They were the words of the ex-boyfriend of my now ex-girlfriend. He had sent that Facebook message shortly after she and I had broken up.
All the things she had done, the way she acted…all of it now made sense.
Anger swelled up inside of me. I was so angry. Angry at him for rubbing it in my face. Angry at my ex-girlfriend for running back to him and using me emotionally. I wanted both of them to suffer and hurt as badly as I was hurt.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
As cliche as that quote is, it is true. I stored anger against them for months because I didn’t want to feel the shame of not feeling good enough. The idea of having lost my girlfriend to another man brought back deep-seated emotions of how my mom told me I wasn’t good enough growing up.
Deep down, I felt helpless.
As a child, I always had felt a sense of inferiority growing up. I was teased for my appearance (among other things) and never felt I had a safe place at home. When I tried to get help at home, I was rarely met with empathy. Instead, I was blamed for my own struggles.
That hurt I felt slowly transformed into me numbing my emotions and into using anger to mask the shame.
As I grew up, I vowed I would never let anyone hurt me again. I vowed I would become so strong, powerful, and achieve so much material success that no one could bring me down because they were inferior to me. I chased women, career success, and other trappings of the world. I became an expert at not showing my emotions and not opening up to the people around me. I never knew how much of this was rooted in shame and attempting to restore a sense of control.
Deep down, I was still a hurt boy that was desperate to know that he was loved and was good enough as he was.
“Don’t be a little bitch.”
How often have we heard this term thrown around?
Men today are suffering from the false standards and expectations of masculinity society inculcates in them.
We’re taught it’s not manly to show your emotions, and God forbid you start crying in front of other people. So, we bottle everything up. Eventually, our wives, girlfriends, or partners question why we never open up.
We’re taught to be competitive and to beat out the other guy. So, we start trying to achieve in career, business, fitness, and in romantic relationships with women because we feel that just being will mean we’re falling behind compared to other men.
We receive the wrong programming from society on what women want. We start to believe women want us only for what we bring to the table instead of who we are. We try to get the best physique, achieve financial success, fame, status because we feel like we need to do all of this to get the women we want to date.
Deep down, all of this communicates to us that we’re not good enough as we are.
We adopt behaviors and personas to put on around other people because we don’t believe we can show our true selves. Our life is a constant performance around other people, which further reinforces the sense of inferiority we feel with ourselves.
It is a terrible vicious cycle that many of us are stuck in.
The energy from anger, shame, and helplessness has to go somewhere. For some men, they bottle it up inside and live lives of quiet desperation. For other men, that ungrounded energy manifests in the forms of addictions, compulsive behavior, and outbursts towards the people around them.
What is the cure?
Vulnerability is the willingness to share any part of yourself whenever you want.
For a lot of men, the idea of being vulnerable and sharing parts of our lives is terrifying. Why should we open ourselves up to criticism and judgment?
We believe being vulnerable will make us weak and give people ammunition to use against us.
But, vulnerability requires strength.
It takes massive fucking balls to speak your mind, to share something about you that will make others uncomfortable, and to open yourself up to judgment. It requires a willingness to deal with awkward situations and feelings of discomfort.
But, here’s why it works…
Vulnerability gives you a cathartic release. It allows you to express who you truly are instead of always trying to put a good foot forward. The weight of trying to act like someone you are not gets released.
Vulnerability also subconsciously reaffirms how you fucking matter, and who you are is good enough. The reason why it’s so fucking hard to open up and be vulnerable because we don’t believe who we really are is good enough. When you show up and are vulnerable, it affirms to your self-esteem that your voice matters. The more you are willing to truly express yourself, the more you build on the belief that you matter.
And you do. I believe in you.
At the very core, we are enough. We don’t need to prove it to ourselves or others through our financial success, sleeping with a lot of women, and through our physiques.
We just are. Even if we don’t believe it yet.