This struggle for men is real. I applaud and commend you for this thoughtful piece for men in particular. As an avid reader of your pieces Marley I feel privileged in knowing your backstory and how it may contribute to and or may have inspired you to write such charitable counsel for men.
I struggled alone while in what seemed like the most promising relationship. What started out deep, ended up being a shallow reality show relationship of sorts. She would furtively not want to admit to it openly but she has intimately grieved to me about the love lost. While most would see an opportunity to get back in, I am just not that dude.
My mother who passed months prior to our breakup provided this catharsis for me to introspectively move on or as you articulated precisely — let go. I am genuinely happy to say that no children were harmed by this development, although we were looking forward to raising a few soon after we completed our graduate school education. I frenetically chased the ideal in the meantime — a five bedroom ensuite home with and additional guest bathroom on the ground floor, backyard with built-in outdoor grill, two-car garage, and a front yard that featured a circular drive for the whip-appeal (double-entendre here). It was the goal after flipping the nondescript three bedroom, two bath, starter home, we were in — which was more than enough space. I didn’t realize at the time that having more would never be enough while in this tumultuous relationship.
When she began to want to spend money on aesthetically enhancing her already curvy and healthy figure I was aghast with shame and fear of what was in store for me. I was spiritually undone. I struggled alone with this. I have a traditional Caribbean family and so does she, albeit distinctively, her’s were less than supportive and emotionally broken. Even though I was close with mine I kept this from them. I struggled alone with it.
My friends were also kept in the dark about many things I struggled with. Every time they saw me or I visited them I was greeted with and merely seen as that friend who was a VP at that Wall Street bank. They didn’t know nor did they want to know (oddly enough) that I struggled with acknowledgement and racist slights there and was never content about who I worked for or what I did for a living. I struggled alone with that.
I struggled alone with my mother’s passing while all my siblings grieved openly. I have a father who is emotionally detached from me even though I am his only biological son that most would not only be proud of but would want to get to know and confide with more. Nope not this guy. I continue to struggle alone with this.
I struggle alone to get back to meaningful work. I struggle with being underemployed. I struggle with the expectations of my current relationship. I struggle with not knowing my immediate future. Every night before I go to bed I struggle with this.
I struggle with finding a comfort zone. I struggle with the existential me — the one that lives in a social construct of being a Black heterosexual male. I struggle with stupid people who want nothing more to cause trouble for me as well as themselves. I struggle with casual bad luck and misfortune. I struggle a lot.
This piece acknowledges my struggles though. This piece reveals that I am not alone. What this piece doesn’t simply say to me is “well, you made your bed now lie in it”, or that I ultimately “wasn’t man enough”. What it does say and what I receive from it is that it is okay to repurpose my life in a way that is void of outsized expectations that cripple my ability to simply survive contently.
Besides my own mother and my aunt (her sister), never have I heard another woman speak to me in the way that this piece did. This was just spoken in a different accent. 😁
Thanks for the perspective Marley K. as I struggle into the new year.