I think that most men cannot identify with being a victim. It is completely normal for us to be heads of households, leaders, husbands and fathers. We are ambassadors of compassion, fairness as well as the moral compass of our families. Being a victim isn’t contained in that resume and yet it is written onto the invisible resume of millions of men in this country.
We take an event(s) that occurred in our past and hide it behind layers of denial and repudiation. We believe that something that happened to us should not impact who we are as grown men today and therefore, not worthy of thought.
We do not realize that what has happened to us does indeed impact who we have become as adults. We have yet to comprehend that a traumatic event that occurred however many years ago will be a part of us forever. We treat it as if it is an isolated event that does not or should not directly impact us at all. We would be mistaken to do so because I’ve managed to connect the dots regarding what has happened to us in the past and who we are as adult men today.
What happened to me initially fifty-one years ago impacted me throughout my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know it now.
My self-esteem as a boy had been compromised all those years ago. And what damage that had started at the age of six had been completed at the age of thirteen. I was not aware of the man I would eventually become had it not been for those series of unfortunate events. I only know who I am now which is inclusive of those incidents…not independent of them.
Since I know that the emotion that was thrown out of whack for me was the need for inclusiveness, I know how to deal with it. I know that people will love me, like me, dislike me or downright hate me…and all of that is okay.
I don’t need your approval as much as I require your respect; and the reason for this is because respect is something that is earned. And in that, I will be myself and that should be enough for you to provide me with the respect that is due as a man.
I’ve made mistakes as we all have over the years. Some of those mistakes I can walk back and others I can’t.
I know that at one point in my life, I drank entirely too much and didn’t know why. I knew that I wasn’t an alcoholic but more times than I care to acknowledge I wound up on the receiving end of blackouts.
I realize now that I drank too much to hide the pain that I held within me. That pain could have been something that occurred in that moment. It could be something that I never dealt with in the past, something that I thought had been addressed at the time, but the alcohol would bring it to the surface.
I buried myself in anything that I thought would make me feel good, partially because I was too young to realize that the choices that I was making would not bring about true happiness or prosperity but would only end up bringing me pain.
What’s the difference between those choices versus mistakes that an immature man on his way to adulthood would make? That’s a good question. The obvious answer is that the difference is slim. It is based on your personality, maturity level and your past because its in your past that you become who you are.
Your life choices and experiences comprise who you are and will ultimately become. But the good news is that you do not have to remain at any given low point in your life. Regardless of the reason why you are there, the best news that you could receive is that life has this wonderful way of providing you with a do-over.
You don’t have to be what you thought you were destined to be; especially if that destination is failure. You can rise above it. You can be you…but be a better version of you. If you have been harmed, you don’t have to let that harm define you. You must decide how you want to deal with it; because pain, just like goodness can be a part of who you are. But it doesn’t have to define you.
So…ask yourself, who do you want to be? And then give yourself the most honest answer that you deserve.
~ J.L. Whitehead