Real Men Go To Work

Toxic Masculinity and “being a man” somehow got mixed up into meaning the same thing. And it’s sickening. Toxic masculinity is not strength. It is weak. And it is good for no one.

The ‘manliest’ man struggles because he cannot ask for help. Men discourage men because the conversation can never be about the last time you cried or the person you care most about.

And what is the result? Nothing less than a swipe right movement. The conversations about how many women you’ve slept with. And it’s never about their names.  It’s never about who they are.  It’s only about the notches on the belt.

The same belt that beats down the hopeful imagination of young boys.

The same belt that hangs from a ceiling fan because a man would rather tighten his neck than loosen his heart.

The belt that holds up pants which cover up your real manhood. The pants that disguise your sense of being a man with a fake sense of belonging and a false confidence that spreads like wildfire.

Truth is real men don’t need belts. Real men wear pants that fit.

Pants that wrap around their bodies comfortably, accepting the imperfections of their body just as they accept the bodies of real women instead of sizing them up to unrealistic standards. Pants that trail down to the top of work boots.

Work boots that go to work for equal rights for all human kind.

Work boots that go to work using their strength to protect the people who feel weak. To use the power in their voice for the people who are not heard.

They are not boots that stomp over the people below. Crumbling their pride, their confidence, or their consent.

Real men grab a hat as they leave for work. Not a hat that hides their true intentions and protects them from any consequences. But a hat that humbles them of their privileges and sets them out to do good.

Real men take sticks of gum and take time to chew on their words instead of spitting out insults, judgments and sexist remarks.

Real men have eyes that see the beauty in women instead of casting down shame on their image.

Men are taught to measure twice and to cut once. Measure your self-worth, build it up, and cut others some slack.  Don’t measure to show off how big you are and cut other people down.

Real men wear dirty shirts. Shirts covered in blood sweat and tears. The blood from their mother that taught them how to treat a woman.  The sweat from chasing after their goals and passions. And the tears that they cry when it all seems a little too hard.

Not the blood of your victims, the sweat from others doing your work, and the tears of the girls you’ve left behind.

Real men go to work. You can pick them out of the crowd by the gas masks they wear to protect themselves from the toxic masculinity that surrounds them. The toxic masculinity that closes in on them and asks what notch of the belt they’re on.

But I say don’t worry. I know my privileges. I am a white male in North America.  I have more opportunity than anyone else on the planet. And yet it sickens me to be a part of this stereotype. A stereotype that is all to true.  A stereotype that reads ‘rape’ all over headlines.

To have girls tell me that my friends have taken advantage of them but no one else can know. Because the verbal assault that follows might be worse than the physical.

To have men all around me cheat and lie

And when they tell their buddies it results in high fives

Cause you got laid bro.

And this is what manhood is. But you’re such a man because you get up and go to work in the morning.

Real men go to work.

They go to work for the ones who can’t.

The High

What was the last thing you truly wanted?

I feel like I’m living a life that ain’t mine.

And every time i share some of my mental health story to the public, and i get positive feedback, I feel a glimpse of what my life should be.

Sometimes I feel so high that I envision myself being famous, I envision myself being known world wide as an advocate for mental health, i see myself helping people through their struggles on a daily basis. I see myself in a movie.  And i see it so vividly that i believe it to be true. Like there is no way that this doesn’t happen.  Because i am meant for greatness and it is only a matter of time before i rise to it.

Sometimes i feel so low that i cant get out of bed and get something to eat because i am  not worthy of life.  I cant get out of this darkness because if someone sees me trying to escape it they will spit on me and shove me back down into the dungeon that is my head.

Every time I write I am trying to get people to understand what I am going through every minute of everyday. My mind does not take a break.  And i will keep writing because i will never find a way to explain exactly how it feels.

People don’t understand the high.  I feel so good, so full of energy.  Cocaine couldn’t begin to understand the high that my own brain can give me.  There is absolutely nothing in the world that could bring me down.  One day someone broke into my car and stole my stuff and I didn’t hesitate for a second.  They must’ve needed that stuff more than me.  Isn’t the circle of life beautiful? The world balances itself out and I can just keep living, keep smiling.

Wouldn’t a normal response be hey my sh*t just got stolen that kinda sucks?

People don’t understand the low.  There is literally a voice inside my head screaming at my every move, my every thought.  The voice is me.  The voice isn’t ME.  The voice doesn’t go away it just is quiet sometimes and louder at other times.  My mind almost always knows whats best, but my voice shuts it down a lot.  My thoughts go hey Chris you’re feeling down because you’ve been in bed all day. Maybe if you just get out of bed your head will clear up a bit.  My voice goes Chris you’ve been in bed all day because that is all you’re good for.  I go but voice I gotta make it to class today.  My voice says but everyone will see you and I’ll tell them how fucked up you are and everyone will judge you.  What would you do?

I work and I work.  I have a civil war between my ears.  It is all about the small victories.  The voice told me I can’t get out of bed today.  So I don’t get my homework done. But I make it to class.  Win.  I play it off like I was too cool to do my homework.  I get a couple more wins.  I make it to the gym or out for a run.  I get the good drugs pumping through my head.  I get a couple more wins.  I keep battling.  I keep working at it.  You don’t think I can get out of bed? Too bad, I’m f*cking doing it. And then one day I wake up and the sun is shining.

Right now I’m waiting for that day.  And it can’t come soon enough.

I WANT this voice to f*ck off.

Cause this life ain’t mine.

Three’s

The 3 scariest words I can say or hear: I DON’T KNOW

Where do you want to go? What do we do now? How do you feel? Why are you acting that way?

I remember that in high school I had convinced myself that I was ugly and incapable of being loved. And I reached some weird, comforting acceptance with that notion. You see the voice in my head could convince me of anything. We all have an internal dialogue that may busy our mind or stress us out. Yet it is almost as if the voice I speak of is separate from myself. It represents all the judgement and hate that the world could pour down onto a single person. This voice looks down at me as if I’m the most gullible, vulnerable child one could imagine. And it holds no mercy. It throws my sense of logic and reasoning out the window and can convince me of anything with its overpowering negativity and implication of emotional danger.

At this point of my life I have fought back for the right to believe that there are people in this world who could find me attractive and better yet people who could love me. But even still, in my darkest moments, I am convinced otherwise.

Do you know how lonely it is to live in a world where you are surrounded by people who cannot love you?

– I DON’T KNOW-

The 3 most destructive words I can hear: BE A MAN

In my adolescence I remember getting into yet another fight with my older brother and I ran out of the house as my emotions boiled over. I can still see my childhood house so vividly.

I sat on the edge of our tiled walkway outside the front door, with my bare feet on the gravel and my head stuck between my knees. Snot was dripping down from my nose and splashing on the rocks below. I could hear my father yelling from inside but this time I did not go to him. I could not hold my head up and look him in the eyes. Eventually he came to me and explained that I had to find a different way of expressing my emotions because “real men don’t cry”. To this day I can still pinpoint the moment when a part of my childhood died and ‘Manhood’ became a dream that I would forever chase and never achieve.

That moment fragmented my relationship with my father for years to come. I’ve never felt man enough to impress a girl I liked. I’ve never felt man enough to be comfortable working a hard labour job. And when I got jumped and sucker punched by a kid and his friends and I offered a handshake instead of a fist in return I was the coward and he was the man. And when the girl pleads with me to open up and tell her what’s in my head I’m too much of a ‘man’ to show her my true emotions.

-BE A MAN-

The 3 saddest words anyone can say: I GIVE UP.

I have no idea when I first became ‘depressed’ but I do know graduating high school was the beginning of the almost end for me. I had no idea what to do with my life, and that tore me apart. I concluded that I would just work my hardest at whatever work I could find and at the end of each day if I had made more money than I had lost; then it was a step forward. No matter how small that step might’ve been. But it broke me down. I lost my spirit. I became  irritable and aggressive with my words. The negativity of the voice in my head had taken over my whole livelihood. I lost myself. And then I drove away the woman that I loved so dearly.

At this point it felt as if it was me against the world, and the world was clearly winning. I finally said those three words. The voices took over in my head. You can’t live without her. You can’t do this. You’re worthless. You should be ashamed. I gave up.

There was the time I went into the bathroom, found a bottle of sleeping pills and swallowed all that were remaining. I awoke to an urgent knocking on the door and to this day I do not think I can fully comprehend the fear that was in my friends eyes as I opened the door. That fear was for me? I certainly didn’t believe it at the time.

There was the time I researched how to overdose on Tylenol. You had to take just the right amount in the right time span to have a chance at killing your self or else your body would be able to reject them. It was a lot. Thankfully I’ve never been much of a chemist and I lay in my car parked at that dead end road for an entire night puking up red pills; higher than a kite. I don’t know if it was my suicidal state or the meds but that night my voice came to life. It sat beside me in my car, looked down at me in pity, and told me I was so useless I couldn’t even figure out how to kill myself.

-I GIVE UP-

The 3 words that can still win over: I LOVE YOU.

Months ago my father told me he was proud of me. I said thanks, quickly hung up the phone, and began to cry. I have no recollection of him ever saying I love you but that phone call meant everything to me. I know my brother has had similar difficulties in life as me, but we’ve never really been able to talk about it. If only I could say those words more often.

When the first love of my life said it to me I thought it meant she could save me. But it turns out a 19 year old girl, who’s going through her own struggles, doesn’t know how to save an extremely dependent and suicidal boy who won’t let her tell anyone else about his problems. Go figure.

Since then I’ve let fear take over. Fear that I would make the same mistakes again. And when you give fear the opportunity to take control; it will. So here we are. If only I could let those three words heal instead of complicate. The good news is I still believe in the power of those words. Even in my current state of mind. Time and time again I have learnt that I can get better only to end up lying on my bed, restless and hopeless. Feeling isolated from the world and thinking I’ve messed it all up. And the voice is now screaming at me that I do not show people how fucked up I am. That I do not tell people of my story. But maybe love is enough to shut it up.

-I LOVE YOU-

Christopher