Over the holidays, I was visiting with a friend, and he shared with me that he was feeling stuck in his life. He told me that he had a wife, three kids, and a mortgage that needed financial support. His job as a bank vice president afforded him the lifestyle the family had grown accustomed to enjoying. The benefits package provided a safety net and savings for retirement. He shared that his family enjoyed good health and had been fortunate not to catch the COVED-19 virus. We talked about the economy because many people have lost their jobs or businesses due to the pandemic. He shared that he should feel lucky to have a job and financial security.
My friend became very quiet, and I wondered if we had lost our cell phone connection. I asked if he was still there on the call? Clearing his throat, he spoke in a soft voice, sharing that he hated his job. “Sunday nights are the worst,” he stated. I asked him why that was the case? He said, “because I dread going to work on Monday.”
Pondering what he had just told me, I understood why he was feeling stuck. I had been in his “shoes,” and felt the pain my friend was experiencing. I felt the dull ache in the stomach, the accelerated heartbeat of anxiety that sneaks in around the edges in the night, along with the lingering dark clouds of depression on the horizon. My friend felt his pain and just wanted it to go away and leave him alone, to quit pestering his soul. He kept himself busy, working in the office, on the road, or anywhere he could escape, hoping that he could numb out the pain.
As men, we stuff our feelings and emotions away. To be stoic, ruggedly independent, and fix-it by ourselves. We are not encouraged to ask for help. We would never stop and ask someone for directions. As men, this leaves us many times alone and suffering by ourselves. It is scary to ask for help. We feel vulnerable and afraid that others will think that we are weak. To be seen as weak is one of the greatest fears that a man will experience.
I asked my friend if he had a mentor or life coach who could trust and safely experience his emotions, hopes, and dreams. He told me that he had not been able to find a mentor that could relate to his situation and that it cost money to hire a life coach. I told him that I understood that trusted mentors could be hard to find. Then I asked him how much it would cost him if he lost his job or marriage? I could sense him shaking his head as he told me it would cost much more than it would be hiring a coach.
I paused to let his answer sink into consciousness. I could hear him sigh, and he whispered, “I don’t know what to do.” Feeling his pain, I asked him if he had ever considered joining a men’s support group? I shared with him that I was a part of a group that meets every week via Zoom. I told him that it had become a “lifeline” for me during this stressful pandemic. I shared with him that this group was part of a larger community of men called Evryman. I suggested that, for starters, he may want to explore joining a men’s group. It could be the start of a journey to healing and support by men he could trust with his emotions. He could experience the feeling of not being alone with his pain.
I shared with him that my mantra for the new year was to “feel it to heal it,” and that my men’s group and life coach guided me, walking with me on my journey as a man. As our conversation came to an end, my friend thanked me for sharing with him. In parting, I mentioned that I should be thanking him for having the courage to be vulnerable with me to share his journey with me. As I disconnected my phone from the call, I could feel my heart begin to warm to the notion that I had another companion on my life journey. For this blessing, I give thanks!