They lied to us. Oh my God — they lied.
You remember that time don’t you? Of course you do. You remember that time dad said that “big boys don’t cry” as you tugged at his shirt, knees bruised from that trip, that fall.
They lied to us. That time we were told that boys don’t play with Barbies, that cops and robbers was the game of choice, where the only thing robbed of us was our ability to be free, our emotions and individuality barred against the world’s eyes.
You remember it don’t you? That time in the playground. You the outsider, you were the lone one — the one always picked last or picked on cause you weren’t quite tall enough, white enough, strong enough, man enough.
And as they went down the row of kids, picking everyone else like they always did, one by one, you couldn’t help but wonder if this was how it was always going to be; you, the last one standing, the unloved, beaten down by slurs, insecurity and loneliness.
And after coming home broken like the countless nights before, bruised, beaten and hurt once more, you were told once again that “boys will be boys” as though to justify what injustice it is to be seen as lesser.
Flash forward to 18 when you were told to take the last shot at the party when the last shot was tens shots back.
Flash forward to you lying on the cold bathroom floor, locked in with tears streaming down your face for what you knew not.
Flash moment to the last moment you thought was the last moment, when you cried out for help and no one seemed to answer.
Flash forward to everything coming undone, your vulnerabilities laid bare, your emotions in disarray.
You’re not man enough. You’re not man enough. You. Are Not. Man. Enough.
But you still gathered the broken pieces of yourself together. One shattered piece at a time.
And you kept existing.
But then they told you it wasn’t enough.
Because even an attempt doesn’t count until you’re “man enough” to go through with it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to go it all alone. You were lied to.
Being a man isn’t hiding away from your vulnerabilities. Being a man is being human.
It’s being vulnerable to those tears welling up in your soul and having the courage to let all flow.
Because despite what we were led to believe, because despite all of the lies we were told of ourselves, there’s one thing they can never take from us: our promise to never give up.
Dexter is a Jack.org speaker, one of the CAMIMH's Faces of Mental Illness, a blogger, mental health advocate, a Tedx Speaker, contributor for The Mighty.com and he's a Board Member at Voice Found.
For more of Dexters work vist him on Twitter: @DexterJohnN
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