I felt I couldn’t express myself growing up.
I’m a man, so opening up would only make me seem and look weak?
When I lost control of my feelings
These thoughts damaged my teenage years. Seeing my family battle for their lives, I felt I couldn’t tell them how I felt…
“Mum. I can’t lose you! You’re my rock. I need you here. Please kick Cancer’s bum. I’m struggling here. Please don’t lose the fight!”
Going through such a rough time emotionally took it’s toll on me. I was keeping so much in that I was losing my identity. I was sliding into a dark hole, and I couldn’t stop. There was nothing for me to grab onto to and with my feelings building up, I was battling for my own life.
When I was 16, I took a step forward. On my Mum’s birthday, I wrote her a letter explaining how I felt. I told her why I couldn’t be there for her at the hospital before her operation. I told her I had to escape from life. My endless hours on my XBOX were helping me to stay alive. I couldn’t face what was happening.
The passing of my Nan has always been something I haven’t openly spoken about. A few years ago, I’d see my Mum cry at something on TV. I knew she was missing my Nan. I think about her a lot. She was my role model. A role model taken away from me when I needed her most.
It’s hard accepting feelings
But…it needs to happen. I’ve only grown as I’ve accepted how I feel. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t. I began to understand my feelings and I’ve done things about it.
I have to be honest with myself before I can be honest with you.
I can’t be open with you until I’m open with myself.
When everything happened all at once…
If you’ve read my ‘The influential moments of my life‘ post, you’ll know what I’m talking about. When my Mum was battling Cancer, my sister having a stroke and the passing of my Nan, that was a time I really kept everything in.
On top of this, I was being bullied. I ran away from home, police were called and my school attendance dropped to 40%.
I was struggling. I struggled to open up. This whole “men don’t have feelings” crap doesn’t just impact adults. It has a worrying impact on children too.
We’re all human. We all have feelings.
I had no-one I felt I could talk to
I felt I couldn’t speak to anyone. I felt no-one would take the time to listen. I felt I would be a burden on my family and friends.
It was only until after I finished my studies that I opened up to my friends. They were shocked. My family were shocked when I opened up about my suicidal thoughts.
Feelings are hard for people to express. When I was at school, my teachers would give me special attention. I didn’t need it. I just needed someone who would listen. I didn’t want to be treated differently.
And that’s the main part of this story I want you to take away. I hadn’t spoken about most of my feelings as I was scared to be looked at differently. I didn’t want my family to treat me differently.
I needed a hug. A listening ear.
No-one should be hearing “man up”. No-one should be saying “man up”. It’s damaging. It’s negative. It’s not needed. Men have feelings too.
You don’t know what’s happening behind a smile. You don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. Just because I’ve done some amazing things in my life, doesn’t mean I haven’t had the struggles. Just because I smile a lot, doesn’t mean I don’t cry. I do cry.
I let my feelings out. It’s natural to want to talk. But for some, you need to take the first steps…
Ask how someone is
Ask what they’ve been up to
A conversation can save a life. A conversation helps to release.
The letter was the start
The letter to my Mum saw me open up. It saw me take my first steps to talking about my feelings.
In time, I was telling people when I wasn’t OK. It’s OK to admit it. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to take time out to care of yourself.
Self-care is important. Your health is important.
When I understood this, I started to talk more. My dog Flash would be there when I was letting everything out. He may not have spoken back, but it was someone to open up to. Someone that I needed.
Writing out how I feel
Blogging was an outlet in 2014 to start sharing my story. The story packed with feelings and small chapters sharing who I am.
It’s become a form of therapy for me. Writing helps me to express my feelings. Writing out how I feel helps me to feel like a reader. A reader of my own life.
It helps me to understand. It helps me to accept how I feel/felt. Blogging has made me who I am today. Blogging has given me a voice; both in the industry and in my personal life.
I’ve spoken at conferences, delivered talks to schools, colleges and universities, featured in a number of publications and been on numerous radio stations, because blogging helped me to accept my feelings and turn them into a story to tell….