This weekend, I had the chance to speak with Jay Julien, Co-Founder of the men’s support group, My Brother’s Keeper. Our conversation covered multiple angles of how men can heal from trauma they’ve faced and how important the process is. Too often, we carry around the burden of yesterday’s pain and as men, we’re not allowed to address it (or, so it seems).
It’s been a narrative for a few centuries. MRC, a counseling site for men, women, and children, shares, “from an early age boys are often taught by parents, unconsciously and sometimes explicitly, to hide their feelings. It’s how the ‘big boys don’t cry’ mantra develops and can be perpetuated by teachers, friends, society and popular media.”It’s the norm to experience manhood without identifying the clouds along the way. Whether it’s to protect our pride or to remain strong for the ones that we love, it never rains. We must protect at all costs, even at the expense of sanity.
Julien introduces an interesting point, however: “If you can’t heal, your ability to protect is limited.” In other words, without acknowledging the pain that pierces us, we’re never be fully available to anything, or anyone. That’s why he co-founded My Brother’s Keeper. To help introduce men to healing and encourage them to do it together.
A group project of peace.
The domino effect of the healed man creates better fathers, husbands, and leaders.
Support groups, like MBK, operate as a group project for peace. It’s a key step in eliminating the unnecessary noise surrounding the development of men. A better world awaits on the other side. Contrarily, men and society at large will continue to suffer at the hands of ignorance if we don’t begin to re-think the male development process. “From a very young age, boys are asked to “prove” their manhood,” writes Shalini Sinha of The Irish Times. “They can’t ever relax and be themselves (whatever that might look like for them). There is a constant pre-occupation with an image of how a “real man” behaves, and boys are forced to fit this.”
That idea of a “man” has boxed in the male species. It creates a narrow gate for only the “real men” to flow through and the others must kill themselves to pretend to fit in. Compared to women, men are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide, according to BBC. That still doesn’t account for other natural causes of death that poor stress management can cause. “Researchers found that throughout life, men were about twice as likely as women to have a heart attack,” says Harvard Medical School.
A new day of manhood is on the rise. Today’s sun and stars calls for man to be greater than he ever has before. It calls for man to find healing from the traumas that plague him. It’s calling for men to take the charge and truly become emotionally available to being the leaders and lovers that we were called to be. A whole new definition of MAN.