Preface: this is from my point of view. This is from my own experiences and from my life. I am not speaking for anyone else.
This is a serious topic for me.
This is something that happens to me, and that I see happening to people around me.
I usually try to pepper my posts with gifs and jokes…
Not this time.
I hear things like this on a daily basis.
“You know what’s funny is that you’re band isn’t that bad.”
“Wow, finally losing some of that weight.”
“I never expected you to do so well!”
“You’re doing pretty good for a guy with your history.”
“If you find a sweet girl with low standards, you’ll be lucky!”
Sometimes they’re not so nice. Sometimes it’s just…
Coworker: (to general staff) I feel lucky, this is a great crew (turns to me) ya know, except for some people who suck haha
Friend: You’re not a friend, you’re more of a part of the eco-system – akin to a fly or a tape worm. (After this one I was visibly wounded) Are you really holding on to that?
YES, I AM!
I get that most of these are said in jest. I even get that most people aren’t saying things just to be mean.
Let me take a moment to say this:
As a male, I see this a lot. I experience this a lot. I hear this and deal with this a lot. What’s worse – I think like this A LOT!
I’ll get to that in a soon…
Where to begin is difficult.
Do I start with talking about how in a society that tells me to be vulnerable I still have people taking jibes at me, and if it affects me it’s my fault?
Do I start with telling you all about how ingrained it is in me – as a male – to cut down other males, especially if they’re doing well?
Do I start with pointing out how people with observe others doing this and simply laugh at the “jokes” that are being made?
Do I start with telling you (whomever you are) exactly how it feels to be torn down. Every. Day. Of. Your. Life…?
By your friends. Co-workers. Loved ones. Strangers.
Maybe all of them?…
Observed today –
Woman greeting another woman: “Hello, darling!”
Man greeting another man: “Hey, asshole!”
Everywhere I look nowadays I see articles, memes, Reddit shares, T-Shirts, posters, and so on – telling me to be vulnerable. “Authentic.” I see/hear about how I need to open up, let people in. Add in the fight against toxic masculinity (that’s another layer, believe me). But, if you let your guard down, if you let yourself be vulnerable – YOU WILL BE HURT. That is a simple fact. But, shouldn’t you have some safe people? What if the people you’re “supposed to feel safe with” still hurt you? What if they make snide remarks or backhanded compliments?
When do you put the armor back on?
When is enough enough?
Sure… No pain, no gain.
But, let me tell you something from this guy –
I have lived a life with trauma, evil things said and done to me, and I am not strong enough to constantly let down my shields only to be hurt again and again.
There are some times where I feel strong enough, bold enough, or just confident and awesome that I drop all the masks – that I let my Self be seen.
Each time I do, it takes more and more, though.
I was having dinner with a friend tonight.
I had to explain to her how it was taught to me, shown to be from a very young age, made second nature
To tear down other males.
See someone doing well?
Make a remark to put them in their place.
See a guy in a good relationship?
Make a comment about how she settled for him.
A guy at work got a promotion?
Tell him “You’re Welcome.”
See a guy succeeding?
Remind him that he’s mortal, and that
HE IS NOT BETTER THAN YOU
For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen men doing this to each other. And the close they were, the worse they would get to each other. It has become such a norm, and such a way of life, that when I see any man doing well – new car, good band, new/good relationship, good job – the first though, the first thing that pops into my head is a comment that will tear that man down.
I am grateful for those thoughts now.
Once I realized I was having that as my first thought, I was able to focus on it and shift it.
I was able to stop myself from saying the two-faced compliment and instead deliver words of simple praise.
Being on the receiving side of both – backhanded compliments and simple praise – I can tell you that either can make or break your day.
Nonetheless, it is SICKENING how much it is made a part of us (males) – made our nature by nurture.
It goes back generations.
It is all simply a part of “how things are” and we accept it.
Add to that, I’ve seen/experienced these jokes, comments, and taunts from all sides of the gender spectrum.
Maybe I’m supposed to have a thicker skin since I’m male.
Since I’m in my mid-thirties.
Since I’ve “dealt with worse.”
Since “it’s just a joke.”
Since it’s harmless…
Since I shouldn’t let anyone control how I feel…
If my feelings are hurt, they’re hurt.
If someone says something mean, sometimes I don’t have the friggin’ strength to not let it get to me.
Sometimes there’s a trigger or a bad memory.
And sometimes it just doesn’t feel good to have those “jokes” made.
Take a moment –
Would you rather have someone say that you’re a piece of shit, laugh, and then tease you for “letting it get to you”
Just tell you
“Hey, you’re a badass human being and I’m glad that you exist.”
Which one would you prefer?
Day in and day out?
I’m not saying that you should hide behind a mask and a suit of emotional armor.
I’m not saying that you should leave yourself open to every insult, humiliation, or ridicule.
I’m just asking for you – whomever you are – and for me –
to maybe just take a moment and think…
We might be tearing someone down.
And in this world, with everything going on…
Sometimes a harsh word, even a joke, is all it takes…
Sometimes a kind word is what keeps us going.