Last week, I was listening to Bill Burr’s “Monday Morning Podcast”— one of my favorite podcasts out—and he was recalling the heartbreaking story of giving up his dog. Bill is virtually never emotionally sentimental in his act or on his podcast, but you could clearly hear the tremble in his voice as he recounted this particular memory.
Listeners understood because even we grew a weird quasi-attachment to his dog. The way he beamed about Cleo, and even hearing her bark in the background of some episodes gave us an impression of how fun and playful the dog is, and the impact she had on Bill’s life.
Because he’s welcoming a baby on the way with his beautiful wife Nia, he realized he had to make some tough choices, and choosing to part ways with his occasionally temperamental pitbull was one of them. While I felt empathy for Bill, there was one part of his story that immediately left me glaring off into an introspective haze.
“You know what’s f***ing hilarious? My wife, like, sobbed five or six times, including the night before and their ability to move ahead is f***ing astounding. They can know it’s sad, deal with it being sad, they cry it out of ’em. Their ability to handle sh*t like that versus a guy…guys just deny, deny, deny, and they hold onto to the sh*t.
When I was crying over my dog, the whole time I was fighting it, so it was like an eight-second cry. Fight it off and just keep it right there in your chest. I’m tellin’ you 9 years from now, I’ll be at a Christmas party and have a couple too many Zinfandels and I’ll lash out at somebody.”
Because I’ve never owned a dog, I can’t relate to that specific feeling in regards to a pet, but I completely connected with Bill’s statement about men dealing with pain and how I’ve dealt with past breakups. I didn’t have the first damn clue on how to heal myself in what I considered a socially acceptable manner, and I don’t think that is just a problem isolated to me. I really believe most men don’t know how to heal themselves after an incredibly emotional breakup.
As men, we’re constantly told that losing ourselves in our emotions is an emasculating act. We’re told, from men and women alike, that there are parts of the emotional spectrum that are inherently unhealthy for us to explore. We’re told that our strength isn’t in rebounding from a tough, traumatic and emotional event; it’s in being so averse to pain that we don’t even need to rebound in the first place.
These aren’t the messages that we learn as grown men; these are the messages we’re inundated with from the moment we skin our knees for the first time as toddlers. These are the messages that are shoved down our throats throughout our formative years, and by the time we’re adults, we become experts on managing our emotions in the most unhealthy ways possible.
“The best way to get over a woman is by getting under a new one.” – male proverb
So we retreat into different methods that don’t aim at healing our broken hearts, but rather those that directly fix feeling a broken heart. We adopt and rely on new women, old habits, excessive liquor or weed, and a constant strain of pushing the pain away by just forcing it down somewhere deep where it will only fester and grow.
My hope in 2017 is that we can change the way we talk to boys about dealing with their emotions, so that we can create more men who are secure enough in their masculinity to reap the benefits of being emotionally balanced and fulfilled human beings.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.