Sebastiàn Molano received a message in his inbox that caused him to rethink how men express their feelings.
When I checked my email two days ago, I found a message with this title on my inbox. I thought it was from my partner, but there was a guy’s name on the sender. A buddy’s name. I am quite sure that if you find a message in your inbox from a dude titled, “I miss you”, your immediate reaction is a) I bet he made a mistake, b) he may be drunk or c) he is joking. Otherwise, why would a guy tell another guy that he misses him? Even more, why would he write it?
Men expressing openly their feelings, but especially to each other, is so rare and out of the traditional norm of “what it means to be a men” than it kind of freak us out. It makes us feel uncomfortable and it feels emasculating. This is the consequence of the way in which manhood is constructed: “Be a man, don’t be a girl, be strong, don’t cry, man up”. This has created a hostile environment for men to express themselves. To counteract this, the coming documentary “The Mask You Live In” is a great and needed contribution to pursue a different way to be and to become a man.
So when I realized that my buddy did not make a mistake, social norms have taught me that the only way in which it is accepted to express love among men is when there is alcohol involved. My strong and beautiful dad was able to open up and chat thanks to it. Otherwise, he was the tough guy. In my culture, expressing love among men is allowed and expected when alcohol levels are high. As a teenager, I did the same. My dad found out about the first time I got drunk because I called him to tell him “te quiero/ I love you”. This is how difficult it is sometimes. Men need to basically lose part of their consciousness in order to express what they feel. This is how messed up it is.
When I opened the message, I felt so deeply touched by my friend’s words and kindness that the strongholds I have built throughout the years to keep my cool and my emotions hidden fell like pouring rain. “In honor of your thoughtful recent posts on masculinity, I wanted to tell you that I miss you. I’m not kidding!”. His opening line had a deep effect on me. His message was so simple yet so powerful and revolutionary. My friend found a way to articulate a genuine manner, expressing nonconformity with the way in which men are portrayed and stereotyped.
On a cold winter morning, two weeks ago, I read on the bus on my way to work “Nobody’s Son”, an article featured in the New Yorker about a guy who loses his dad. While I was reading it, I felt again the heavy weight of sorrow on my back. I felt in my right hand the cold texture of the wooden coffin that I carried, almost four years ago, when my brother passed away. I recalled the eyes of friends and family members looking at me while I was walking out the church. I could feel how my facial muscles tighten as if they were following a drill, responding to a known call: “don’t lose it, you are a man, don’t cry”. And I did not. I kept myself together. My time to mourn came only a week later, when the sweet stream of rum helped me to release a bitter stream of tears.
My dear friend, your message is a great gift. It gives me the chance to be closer to the man I want to be. It makes it easier for me to be vulnerable and share my feelings with less fear. It helped me to write this words thinking about how much I miss my brother. Thank you, I hope I can be, as good of a friend to you as you are to me.
P.S.. I miss you too.
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