A man will share his story with only two types of people; the woman that he cares about, who he feels he can reveal his soul to, and another man who may wear the same scars. Talking about a heavy past with another man who might understand takes some of the weight of the man's history off his shoulders for a while, giving him a minute to breathe. He shares with the woman he cares about, not for pity, but to help her understand who and what he truly is, as well as the path he took to get there. Both are important in their own right and for their own reasons. Both are moments to be cherished and respected for what they are.
How do I know? When I decided to be "normal" and live the cookie cutter life that was sold to me for so many years, I hid everything I was because I did not feel that people in my new life would understand; I knew that they would likely judge me for those things. I hid from co-workers, neighbors, and people I became friends with at the gym as best I could. Sure things leaked out now and again, like a momentary burst of aggression and anger, but I was able to disguise it as meathead "gym guy" behavior.
The person I lied to the most was the first woman I married. I hid most of my history and disguised all my behaviors so well that I lost my identity and forgot who I was. It took meeting a man at the gym, who was maybe five years my senior, that was still knee deep in the life I left behind, to change my perspective. The more we spoke the more I returned and the more the weight I was carrying in private started to lift. The more we spoke the angrier I got about what I had become. It took a divorce, a new carrier, and a new woman to slowly regain "me". It took going through depression, pain, and a complete shuffling of my life to understand some things. To have a successful marriage I cannot hide who and what I am; good, bad, scary, or ugly. To have any sort of friendships, I may not have to show all my cards, but I cannot hide myself behind a fake smile and bland conversation.
The weak dump their trash on everyone's doorstep, stinking of ignorance and embellishment, for pity and attention. This is not what we do. It takes strength and courage to show yourself vulnerable and honest before someone who is in your circle in an effort to be understood. And if you know someone is burdened by their past it's never a bad time to say hello, ask how they are doing, even if it's just to share a short laugh or a stupid meme. It could mean all the difference in their day.
Most of the time I’m a brick wall. Nothing goes in, nothing goes out. But I’ve learned over time that a wall doesn’t stand on its own. It requires other walls, support beams, and more to stand the test of time. The men who understand, who are not afraid of what we did or what we will do to keep us and ours safe – they’re the other walls.
Thank You for those words and thoughts BC.
We who bear the scars of battle, be they on our body or within, can find the redemption and safety we seek with the ones we love intimately and with all our warrior brethren. Knowing it is okay to not be “alright” does not make us lesser men but comes as long sought freedom from the horrors and terror of what we have witnessed and done. We have fought in battle and we have survived, we have lost so very much of ourselves in the Hell of combat. Yet we still retain our humanity and our ability to love, we are truly blessed…
Thank you for your words of strength! It’s not every day when we can speak from our hearts without being judge or torn down. I’ve recently been having to build myself again. The woman I loved deeply used my deepest secrets and demons to tear me down and destroy me. Still with no one to talk to. I’ve been battling this on my own, at the gym and over working myself to not think about things. I’m not Dead Yet!!
Thank you for speaking words I couldn’t. Men of courage had the stigma to be strong all hours. I felt your words hit me.
Thank you for your strength. I hope one day I too can speak my inner heart.
I hope someday to find a person that will listen with both ears .
So very true and eloquently written. Thank you my brother.
Very well said BC that’s the truth it takes a lot of strength to admit we aren’t alright but I think it’s the strength of the others that makes us grind to be better