My goals for this essay was to discuss how we as a society expect men to be strong all the time. My goal was also to discuss how that’s a toxic thing to expect from men. I’m proud of how I was able to write about a hard time in my life. One way I want to improve my writing for the next paper is to reflect better because I feel like some of my reflection is weak.
When I was seven years old I learned that perfect families don’t exist. I always thought that my mother and father would be married forever and that we could live happily ever after. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
My mother and father had issues that a seven-year-old couldn’t “understand”, though I did understand that they weren’t happy. They would argue and yell at each other and I overheard all of it while I hid in a tent I kept in my room. That tent was my safe place where I got away from all of this. Before I knew it, my parents were divorced. My parents tried to sugarcoat things, but I could understand everything perfectly. Then I was given a schedule that consisted of me spending half the week with my mother and the other half with my father.
You would think that after the divorce my parents would be fine but they weren’t. My mom started working long hours to cope. My dad would try to smile through the pain and before I knew it my stepmom appeared in my life. I could tell that at first, my father was using my stepmom as a rebound because I could still see the lack of happiness in his face, but over time he fell in love with her. I wasn’t very fond of my stepmom but I dealt with her for my father’s sake.
My mother and father’s divorce left a dent in me. It changed my thought process and how I loved people. Seeing my mother and father fall out of love made me keep people at a distance. I didn’t want to get too close to people because I feared going through a “divorce”. This toxic way of seeing love didn’t last long because the summer of sophomore year my father and stepmom divorced and I was able to evaluate things.
It was a warm summer night. I was laying in my bed with my pjs on watching “Henry Danger” on Nickelodeon. My air conditioner hummed along with the actors talking on my tv. That was a normal summer night for me until my dad came home from work. I heard a loud noise which was the alarm system going off. My dad’s footsteps were heavy as if he were mad. He hurried up the steps and swung my door open and sat in my computer chair. My dad’s usual joyful smile was nowhere to be found and then he started speaking, “Shawnie me and Fiona are getting a divorce.” I wasn’t surprised for problems were lingering in their relationship for a while. I asked my dad how he was doing and he replied, “ This is nothing.” It was my dad’s second divorce and I could tell in actuality that he wasn’t fine. He was just trying to hold up a front. My dad then got up from the computer chair, kissed my forehead, and continued with his night.
I sat in my bed wondering what would come next. I wasn’t mad because I knew the divorce was the best decision for their strained relationship. I was more or so worried about how my little brother would take it since he was young. I feared that my little brother would grow up and handle his emotions the way I did. I sat in my bed for the rest of the night with my thoughts racing through my brain resulting in me getting no sleep. Then before I knew it, they were divorced.
After the day I found out of the divorce, I had many sleepless nights. I was so afraid of divorce and the fact that I was experiencing another one frightened me, like a monster under the bed. Yet, I came to terms and realized that in life there are two types of relationships. Toxic relationships and stable ones. Both of the relationships my dad were in started off as stable and then turned toxic. It was not one person’s fault, but both in actuality. By me being old enough to understand that I was contempt with things. My father, on the other hand, was not.
Just like the first divorce, my dad tried to hide his emotions. Typically men try to hide their emotions because of what society expects of them. Society expects men to be strong and always be fine. Men are usually taught that showing emotions are weak. When in reality, not showing emotions is weak because you’re not strong enough to confront how you feel. I remember when my little brother would cry and my dad would say, “Son crying is for girls.” That’s the same toxic thing that my grandfather would say to my dad which my dad was now passing on to my brother.
My dad was like a cup overflowing with water. The water, in this case, were his emotions, yet he refused to confront them. Sadly, my dad was never able to come to terms with how he felt because he died not long after him and my stepmom divorced due to a heart attack.
In a crazy way, I feel like if my dad were able to come to term with things, I feel like he could’ve lived a longer life. He had so much pent-up aggression and sorrow that it took a strain on him. The fact that we as a society expect men to be these strong beings is in a way asking for too much, for they are people just like us who need to confront their emotions or else their emotions will comfort them.
If I could go back I would try to be there for my dad more and help take on the burden of his emotions, but since my dad was brought up in a society where men are frowned upon if they show emotions my dad stayed a closed book. We need to normalize men showing their emotions because emotions are an essential part of life that everyone should be able to use to express themselves.