Men, Emotions, Friendships and Community

This week’s post comes from some recent deep reflection and self-awakening. I recently went to a course for work called Critical Incident Peer Support and it is designed to develop individuals to go back to their place of work and be a level of support for one’s peers (hence the name) in times of crisis and trauma. My current full time job while I finish up my time in the military is as a Criminal Investigator and I am responsible for all major felonies that occur primarily within the Army but can cover down in other circumstances. Through the course of this job I have worked numerous deaths, sexual assaults, and child cases that I believe most people (and I hope this is all people) would find disturbing and care not to imagine.

Well this class was designed to help me become a better supporter of my peers as they go through cases such as these or in extreme cases such as things like the mass shootings or terrorist attacks. While this is something I was sent to in the attempt to check the block to get a trained individual in my office I found it had a deeper impact than that. I found myself talking about these horrible sights, smells, and stories that I have worked and found they had created an emotionally detached and at times numb man. It appeared as though it came as a result of a slow cumulative building of trauma either witnessed firsthand or vicariously experienced through someone else’s trauma. This cumulative numbing effect began to take a toll on my relationships and life in ways I didn’t even realize were happening and found myself on an emotional island.

As I went through this through process I began to awaken to what had been happening and through deep supportive conversations with Raven, I began to tear away a bit of the scars I didn’t realize I had. As I began working through (I am still in the infancy stage) this awakening I was seeing all sorts of examples of things I was missing emotionally. I began awakening to ways to which I was not emotionally present for Raven, my girls, and the complete absence of true male friendship.

This is something that I have seen discussed some in various circles but felt it needed to be said by me, not because I am something special but because it is an awakening in my being. Raven recently attended a workshop at Dancing Rabbit and spoke of the conversations and interactions of the men she saw. She described the conversations as deep, meaningful, and challenging but also saw fun and laughter not seen by “regular” men. I took this to heart and desire friendships such as these.

While of course I had plenty of guys I would cross paths with, work with, and socialize with in passing; the thing all of these “relationships” lacked was authenticity. There was nothing substantial to these so-called relationships as there is the stigma of being vulnerable amongst other men in being able to share with one another. However, as I look back on my childhood, I had a small group of friends but we were very close. We would share everything that was going on in our lives, stay up late laughing and joking or sometimes we would stay up just talking about our lives and what they might become. As I think about those friendships, I see what they should be even now as adults.

When was the last time you, or your partner, opened up and discussed fears, anxieties, joys, praises or genuine emotion with a guy friend? If that question was posed to me I would say probably 15 years or so ago. Are we as men lacking these relationships due to some ridiculous stereotypes or stigmas? I know I was and this is something I am changing and challenge others to do as well. Step out of your comfort zone and find others who share similar interests and passions and be authentic. You just might find a brother who you can be there for you and you for them when in need and when not. This is something we are sorely lacking and in need of. Friendships among men who are not afraid to share and encourage each other to grow as strong men who work alongside strong women and others in community.

 Photo courtesy of Lancashire Wildlife Trust (https://www.lancswt.org.uk/men-sheds

Photo courtesy of Lancashire Wildlife Trust (https://www.lancswt.org.uk/men-sheds