Do You Talk to the Men in Your Life?
It took me years to finally understand the men in my life. Years to understand where that angst stemmed from. The defensiveness, the dismissive attitude. The ‘I don’t care’ lines tinged with anger. The seeming lack of emotional intelligence and empathy. It took me years of talking to and just spending time with men – older men – now hitting the twilight zone of their lives – to understand where that angst came from. To glimpse that cavern that was their soul, gouged with the hurt of years and the injustice and inability to express themselves. Scarred by their own hurt and pain and left to wallow. Coz in the twilight, the shadows come out, pour out almost in a gush of release and relief from the life that consumed all that they held dear. And in those shadows you saw the pain, the hurt, the anger of little boys, then grown men and then old men, yearning for release, for freedom. For a life free of the anguish that shackled them for decades. Deadened by social conditioning and gendered expectations that got them nowhere. Regret tinged every shadow and every memory in almost rivulets of sadness and therein lay the soul. So battered. So hurt. And so human. They talk of the love they never shared, the life they wanted but never lived. The many things in life that coloured and painted them to be what they were. Their mothers and fathers who in their lost quest of discipline ridiculed and hurt their sons, damaging them far beyond the repair of others who came along. And how this hurt was carried for decades and just kept rubbing at each opportune time like salt on a wound that kept bruising and bruising. They talk and they laugh. But that laughter is hollow – a sound echoing in that cavern of their soul tinged with the bruises of words spoken and callously thrown.
And so I spend time with these old men. To understand the men of my generation. To understand how they would be and why they are the way they are. And I wish the men of my generation spoke to the men of the older generations. The way I am now. To know where to turn and to not. To know when to seize the person you love and to let go the one who doesn’t anymore. To know when to fight and when to let go. I wish men spoke to each other or just listened to the tales of yore. Spoken by men who not too long ago, shared the same angst and let it consume them and who now have their own battered scars for company and a drink or two with like minded bed fellows. Alone, laughing and with money, but alone. The melancholy sadness tinged laughter. The money that can buy a moment of bliss but cannot erase the lifetime of pain.