Wednesday, September 21, 2016

“Manly Men” Can and Should Communicate

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I am a 6’ 7” 240 pound man whom was raised by a Marine and an avid outdoorsman, knows how to build houses, loves shooting guns, hunting, and fishing, and hits the gym.  There has always been a stereotype that  men don’t have the best communication skills and sometimes this is true.

I have worked as a nurse for many years and have experienced saving lives and watching lives end. Communicating with families about their loss and helping them through their tough times seems to come natural to me. Despite years of communicating and helping others with whatever they need, professional or personal, I always thought that the only person I was able to talk to was myself.

When my baby girl was born, I promised her that I would always have an open heart and an open ear, something that I never felt I received from my own father. I have made the same promise to all four of my children;  they know they can talk or ask me anything at any time. There would never be any judgment, any abandonment, and I want to always have open communication for them to be able to talk to me about anything.

I am currently happier than I have ever been and more open to communication thanks to my beautiful wife (for those of you who know her, she’s a talker!) I can say I am better now at communicating. Through better communication and opening up, I came to realize a lot about my past.

The FIRST thing I realized is I’ve always wanted to talk. I’ve always wanted someone to listen. I’ve always wanted to get it off my chest.

The first experience that I have with feeling like this is when I was in Cali and dropped my daughter off before I had to fly back to Missouri. At this time Heather and I have only known each other for a short amount of time, but as I drove away breaking down emotionally, I picked up the phone and called her. Till this day I don’t know why I did, but it felt right. She didn’t say anything to me but just let me talk, cry, blabber about random stuff, and drive around my old town for what seemed like forever.

The SECOND thing I realized is that even if I wasn’t communicating to others doesn’t mean I didn’t try or want too. As a “manly man” maybe my way of communicating was different. We don’t like to share our feelings with friends and really do our best to hide our feelings. But there are always hints, there is always a tell that we can’t hide. The reason we can’t hide it is because we want someone to see it and we want to talk or get help.

The THIRD thing that I have come to realize is there is that one person for every man (or person) that we can and SHOULD communicate our feelings to. It doesn’t have to be your wife, your brother, your mother or father that you go and speak to or open up to. However, there IS someone and that person is the one that we show our tell to but we need to go farther and COMMUNICATE with that person. It may be hard to say the words “I’m feeling depressed” or “I’ve been feeling down lately” but we definitely show it in other ways.

The one thing I want others to see is that no one emotionless. Look at your “man’s man” and tell him that you love him and you are here for him. Watch for his tell and be open to conversations that might not make any sense or seem like they are going anywhere. Going from a tell to actually having a conversation about the way we feel is scary, uncomfortable, and vulnerable. There have been so many conversations that get cut off or brushed off because they might not make sense, but we are sometimes just beginning to try to get it out, try to open up, and try to communicate.

We all like to say “if I knew then what I know now, I would of…….” But today is the now and now is the time to make a change. I have gone through my ups and downs, shut down to all others around me, and looked for other means to bury my problems but that never did anything good for anyone else. I am a very confident “manly man” and I am not afraid tell any of my friends and family I love them no matter the time or place,  show affection to those who need it, talk to anyone who will listen, listen to anyone who wants to talk, or cry and breakdown to my wife if I am overwhelmed. No one is too big or strong to be loved or love someone. No one is too big or strong to communicate.