Most times, I would smile and nod...say "thank you" and keep it moving because I didn't believe it. Not for one second. The reason I didn't is because I knew the man in the mirror all too well. I was well aware of all of my shortcomings; shortcomings that were magnified to the tenth power by my experiences.
I had accumulated scars that left deep welts in my psyche. And yet everyday, I would plaster on a smile and ignore the ache that I had become accustomed to know so intimately.
Pain is a funny thing. If you lose someone that you love, the ache will be brilliant, hot and it will feel like it will never go away. It will weigh on your heart until you learn to live with it. It will seem like you can't...until you do.
The mistakes that I made were magnified to the point that on some days that's all I saw. It was my reality. Mine and mine alone. It never occurred to me to wonder why I felt the way that I did.
It never occurred to me to wonder why at various times in my life, I was so socially awkward that it was easier to drown myself in anything that would numb that pain than it would be to face reality.
There are thousands of men like me. We carry pain with us and hide it behind our masculinity. We hold things inside until they explode and then we wind up hurting someone...even if that someone is ourselves.
We push people away without knowing why...perhaps the very people that we want and need to be closest to the most. We drink too much. We do drugs. We indulge in too much sex with anyone and sometimes punish that person because we don't love them. We may become so engrossed in work to the point that work may seem like that is the only thing that matters. We cheat on our loved ones, not because we don't love them but because we really don't love ourselves. And when all else fails, we snap out into a rage over things that may be inconsequential and we don't know why. In the silence of our rooms, we may even shed a tear only to wipe them away and hide behind our masculinity once again.
We do this without a thought because pain no matter how great or small has become one with us. We don't talk about it because to talk about it would be tantamount to being weak. Instead, we continue to live life in the sense of normalcy that we have always known, even it isn't correct.
So what do we do?
~ J.L. Whitehead