I believe I’m a passionate man, alive with pain and joy. I haven’t been awake to this very long.
I had been going through life asleep, and three years ago my dream had taken a turn to become a nightmare. I felt paralyzed, numb and powerless. No feelings, no joy. I wanted to hide, be alone where no one could hurt me.
It felt like when I was five-years old, a little boy hiding in my room, afraid of my father’s rage. It was then that I decided anger and feelings where dangerous, I couldn’t, shouldn’t have them anymore. It’s what I needed to do to survive, and it worked.
Denying those painful emotions became easy, but at the cost of embracing my happiness. I repressed the sadness of my stepfather’s death, straight As were no big deal, my grandmother’s passing necessary, the joy of marriage and children held back. I held it all in. “Suck it up,” “move on” were my mottos. I was in a deep sleep, no noise loud enough to wake me up.
I’m still not sure what exactly happened — children needing me, parents getting sick, lacking direction, maybe it was just that proverbial final straw. Something shook me enough to crack the dam of emotions I’d built. One day, head in between my knees at work trying to breath, I choose to ask for help.
Through therapy I began to speak, through my men’s group I began to release, through my family I began to love. Instead of faking my way as the good dad, husband and employee, I began to actually be that good dad, husband and employee — to be a good man.
I believe that I’m a good man. I’m working to live what this means: being accountable, walking my talk, showing who I am and taking action.
Now instead of breathing to live, I breathe in life and breathe out thanks.
I am thankful that I had the courage to step into this frightening space, thankful for the support of my wife, children and family, thankful for the guidance of the men in my community.
I believe in my mission: to wake up men to see who they are and how they’re showing up in their lives. Getting real to make choices to live as they are or to take a new direction. And I continue that work, too.
I feel great about who I am and how I’m showing up in my life. It isn’t easy and it’s worth it.
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