Paddy the Baddy ain’t so bad. The brash UFC mixed martial arts fighter with a British-Scouser accent famously talks a lot of smack. However, after winning his fight in London on July 23, he didn’t bash his fallen opponent or arrogantly tout his skills. He used the stage to send a message all men and boys need to hear.
“I’d rather my mate cry on my shoulder than go to his funeral next week…men start talking!” Paddy The Baddy Pimlet — July 23, 2022
His mate was one of almost four thousand men that commit suicide annually in the UK. According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics men account for roughly three fourths of the suicides in the UK. In America men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. These are terrible statistics for us men.
Why is this? It’s because of what The Baddy said. Most of us don’t talk. We don’t cry. We confuse strength with ignoring our emotions.
Most of us dudes at some point in our lives have said something along the lines of stop being a p — sy, or take the skirt off, or you need a tampon? These outdated phrases imply that it’s only ok to cry if you are a girl, or that real men don’t cry. Crying doesn’t make you less of a man. Resorting to violence towards yourself or others when overcome by emotions is real weakness.
While it’s good to be physically and mentally strong, our emotions and our anxiety matters. When overcome by life’s many challenges such as finances, career, family, or our love lives—we need to let it out.
Love can be complicated; it’s a major factor in our emotions. Whether it be divorce or the ending of a relationship, we have to process these events in healthy ways to grow and move on. During my divorce years I experienced devastation and rage daily. I was so angry at times people crossed the street to avoid my mumbling vitriol.
While I never considered suicide there were times during my divorce years when I was so beat down by my emotions, the death of my dog, and my kid’s mental health challenges that I couldn’t get out of bed. On days when I didn’t have my kids, I sometimes lay curled in the fetal position calling my friends and family.
All my mates understood as some of them were going through divorce too. Not one of them told me to get a grip or to harden up. Although we still have a lot of work to do, there is positive change underway for men. We are openly talking with our children to be more in tune and that crying is ok. No one every talked to me about that stuff when I was their age.
Tears are more than a physical release of water. Crying releases Oxytocin and Endorphins, the same chemicals released by hugs, kisses, and lovemaking. It reduces physical and emotional pain.
I have purposefully made myself cry to help me process loss by looking at pictures of my late brother, or pictures of my dogs who have crossed the rainbow bridge. One time I parked and stared at the bed and breakfast where I married until my tears ran dry. Mourning and feeling sadness is as much a part of the human experience as happiness and laughter.
I’m not saying that being a gutless puffy-eyed bloke who crumbles everytime life gets hard is ok. Your family, your friends, and the world needs people who can lead and persevere through adversity and crisis. There will be times when one needs to step up, or even physically stand up to threats. However, it’s quite simple. We can acknowledge when we are devastated and feeling hopeless without giving up our overall sense of strength and dare I say—manliness.
We can be a shoulder to cry on and cry at the same time.
I hope my kids and their friends will openly talk about their feelings. I didn’t do it as a kid, or even in my twenties. But at almost fifty years old, it’s normal to check in with my mates and family.
An old fishing buddy who had a bad split with a long time partner was diagnosed with heart complications at the same time. Then he had eye troubles that could leave him blind if his heart didn’t quit on him first. It was winter making it even harder to be positive.
He told me that he instructed his Mom to give me all his fishing stuff if he died, or if he capped himself off. I was over 2000 miles away mired in divorce and tied to my young children. There was no way I could go see him.
I took a deep breath and responded, “Well dude. I’d much rather we fish together again than have all your fishing stuff. I’ll also be pissed off at you if you kill yourself.”
That last line made us chuckle and pause before we switched our talk back to ladies, bucket list places to fish, and reminisced about our travels together in New Zealand. That conversation was over three years ago. He’s in a good place now and we’re making plans to fish soon.
He did what we need to more of as men.
Thank you Paddy The Baddy. My son, a young Jujitsu practitioner, watches your fights and heard your speech. It’s important that my kids hear this important message from people other than me. I hope you continue your rise to the top.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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