Updated: Jan 30
I recently spoke with a man online who decided not to commit suicide.
He is going through a terrible breakup. He is very upset and hurt, and his emotions are all over the place, which I think is confusing for him.
Truth is I am going through a breakup too, and I expressed my struggle through initiating my own post in an online chat group, not directed toward anyone in particular. This is why he even opened up to me and posted a comment.
This was in an online chat group where people open up about certain types of struggles, so I do not know him personally or really anything about him, so first thing I did was give him the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255.
As we engaged in conversation further, I picked up that he is a sensitive man.
Through encountering another sensitive man once before who was struggling, I opened up the idea to him that our society allows me as a woman to be sensitive (and I am very sensitive), but does not nearly as much for sensitive men. We collectively learn the idea that sensitivity is a weakness, but even more so for a man. This can be extremely hard for a sensitive man to deal with, and can end up having him do unfortunate things like chronic overuse of psychoactive substances, overeating, eating ”comfort“ foods too often, going along with the crowd in such a way that may be destructive to his health or inner core values, not wanting to live, having low self confidence, and lack of emotional management...because no one taught him how to emotionally manage his sensitive nature, they just said “you’re too sensitive, toughen up, grow some balls, stop being a bitch, stop acting like a girl, be a man.” Fyi, that may not change his inherent sensitive nature. He’s just doing his best to cover it up for you and wall it off from himself. As a woman you hear those same comments given towards men and may also pick up that it’s ‘less than’ to be a woman, and also may hear, “you’re over-sensitive, you’re too young to be sad all the time, you’re crying too much.” Some of these may be true, as depression and low adrenal function is a real thing, and clinical assessment and treatment (medical and/or psycholological) may be necessary. But sometimes, there are other reasons behind why a person is so sad.
I told the guy that sensitivity is not a weakness. He then opened up saying that he is weak physically and in his personality. I then said I have struggled with feelings of weakness too, but that may be stemming from comparing myself too much to others and not recognizing where I shine. In fact, as part of an exercise in a book I read, I asked others that I trusted to tell me what was great about me. They brought to light things I take for granted, that everyone else has...but truth is they don’t. And I took them for granted because they didnt seem to be helping me overcome the challenges I had at that time. But that doesn’t mean they are something to be dismissed.
I encouraged him to embrace his sensitivity and decide what that is going to look like for him. I mentioned how I am doing more work to address my inner self talk.
I also mentioned that I am trying to let myself go through the grief this time, because I was afraid of it before, and have not dealt with this amount of it before. As a person whose sensitive, and I suspect as a man, when life asks you to experience more emotion than you are comfortable with, that you may also feel you cant handle, that society tells you that you are not supposed to act a certain way with it, or act too long a certain way, things can get dark or destructive if you are not aware or not fighting off that place.
He said he felt like a robot. I told him that was not uncommon, as a coping mechanism. I encouraged him to go after things he cares about or likes to do (volunteering, outdoor activities, dance, etc). This came from a book called Deeper Dating, by Ken Page, where he helps you to identify your core gifts and how to manage them - one of them possibly being, go figure, sensitivity. One of the ways to identify them is to start to be aware of what moves you, in a positive or compassionate manner (I’m paraphrasing based on my interpretation). The book is a dating book but its focus is on you the individual, getting to know you, and being you.
The man saw that other people who were less sensitive seemed happier. I told him that you do not know everything about their life, so that may not be a good idea to compare. You just see all of your own.
He wanted to date other women just to get over his ex, but based on even his struggle to do so, I wondered if it was more of running away vs a tactic that was actually going to work, for him, for I was concerned that he would carry his issues into the next situation. I’m personally not interested in dating anyone new anytime soon. So much I have to let go still.
I mentioned to not run away from the grieving journey, because it sounded like that was what he was trying to do. I guess I was trying to let him know he could make it, and going through it was important. I expressed how much I’ve cried but I am okay with that because it is a release for me. In this way, I was trying to encourage him to cry if he needed to, and that it was okay to do so. Because I’d rather you cry for 3 months or vent to someone a lot for 6-12 months than:
-drink too much for 20 years (notice I didn’t say alcoholic because I want to include those who may not be, but still know they’re probably drinking too much)
-do drugs or overuse psychoactive substances for 20 years
-overeat and not reach your health goals
-have any other emotional or physical issues from always stuffing how u feel
-making choices be dictated by the major effort of conscious preservation of the person you think you need to be I feel like we only allow men to cry when it’s something anyone would be brought to tears by, such as the death of a dear human friend, a close loved one, or a big male dog...but not a chihuahua, bad grades, your career not going where it should, tough financial times, getting your feelings hurt, a movie, or great emotional happiness that doesn’t coincide with great achievement in society’s eyes, etc.
He said it was hard for him to view other couples. I told him it was hard for me too, and that I felt like a failure. But I said one failure doesn‘t mean that in totality one is a failure.
I said it sucks to not be succeeding in the places you want to, but that I was working - hard (meaning I fall off, it’s not easy to me, but I keep trying) - on seeing the good and keeping things in perspective. And I mentioned that being in nature does wonderful things for me, even on harder days.
The interactions I had with my previous partner opened up a series of mindset skeletons I didn’t know I had, and especially didn’t know how severe they were. Insecurities went through the roof. So I am also working on those too.
I ended the conversation afterwards, as I had to go about my day, and felt I had said enough for him to start pondering. He thanked me.
What’s funny...I initiated this post, seeking emotional outlet and help for myself, and ended up helping someone else. What is unique about chat groups where the struggles are similar is that you get to more closely meet people where they are at, they can feel more comfortable knowing they are not alone in their struggles, and they may feel more accepted. I am not someone who has overcome everything, I am exposing what I have and still am struggling with, what I have learned, and what I am still working on.
Embrace your sensitivity. Weakness is relative. Sensitivity was probably seen as a weakness for a long time in history, especially during war...but even then, I’m speaking of a certain type of war. There are many types of wars, including the one in your mind. And different ”strategies, skills and equipment“ are needed depending on the type of war. The war within, the war with how you individually and uniquely function okay in society, AND how you will change society (should you choose to do that) is one that may require you to open up that emotional, mental, and historical box of you and your life. This... this is brave... this is strength.
I do not think the full strengths of sensitivity are being revealed at this time, but are well on their way. I have noticed that many who are sensitive, are also energetically sensitive. Something extra for you to ponder.
Because of your environmental training, some of you may not receive a word I am saying because I’m a woman, because I’m Black, or whatever other labels you’ve falsely associated with ‘less than,’ of which describes what you are perhaps feeling now about yourself, or have in the past. I encourage those who do receive to share with others, for your voice may be received better. There are various methods in how we pass progress along and this is one.