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The reason why it is still a ticking time bomb is because so many males stay silent. Because men, apparently, should be strong and 'suck it up'. This culture still has some way to go before being reversed, but there are signs of progress. The group Andy's Man Club - which was set up by someone who lost their brother in law (called Andy) to suicide - has been a big success. It's a male only group where men are encouraged to talk about what's bothering them. And it has been a big help for some men.
Doing the 'inner work' - facing your biggest fears, hurts and trauma - is extremely challenging and not for the faint hearted. As a man, in some ways it's easy to think that it can be even more difficult - because men are conditioned to be disconnected from their emotions at an early age. As a result, there is a disconnection from the heart. And there is definitely less support available for men on the whole. Women are generally much better at supporting each other than men. Even though I have a number of male friends now, I still find it hard to speak to an individual man if I'm struggling. It's easier to post on Facebook or speak in a group. There is far more support available for women in terms of relationship issues. Maybe a lot of men aren't interested in these things .. but I rather suspect it's more a case that men often try to deny their needs and their issues. It's easier to drink alcohol, after all.
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So, often, as men, we can feel very alone on the spiritual journey. I am fortunate that I have connected with the Manchester spiritual community, where there are a lot of men - and indeed, one of the main reasons I am so keen to move over there is because there are a lot of like minded men. We need male company. Men's work is going to be vital over the coming years. A lot of men are emotionally illiterate and disconnected from their true selves, and this isn't going to change if we are relying on women to meet our emotional needs. Whilst it's true that women also have a lot of work to do in terms of allowing men to be vulnerable - it's not fair for men to expect women to meet all their emotional needs - just imagine if it was the other way round! We need male friendship if we are to be the strong, powerful men that we are called to be (and I don't necessarily mean strong and powerful in the way that society would depict). We need men in order to express some of our vulnerabilities - some things are far better said in a group of men.
As much as I would like to think that I'm not a 'typical bloke', I've still been affected by male conditioning. I still find it difficult to cry - particularly in public. I've kept silent about some of my deeper issues for a long time - and believe me, what I've been through is enough to have finished anyone off - I was fortunate that I was (and still am) very resilient - and also would be too scared to attempt suicide. Anyone who calls people who suicide cowards need to take a look at themselves. My friend Nick had a lot of guts to jump off Scammonden Bridge - almost two years ago now.
Like many men, I thought I could overcome a lot of things on my own. But often times, we need help - even if it's just a case of speaking to a trusted friend. For men in general, connecting to the heart is almost like a foreign language. It takes time - because men are so closed down. This is the reality.
The patriarchy destroyed women for centuries. Thankfully, women are starting to redress the balance, although there is still some way to go, and many countries still treat women abhorrently. We can't ignore this. The other side of the coin, as a man in western society, is that men's issues can be easily brushed aside. I've seen the odd Facebook comment along the lines of 'men's issues aren't important, women's issues have to be faced first'. Actually, they should be faced hand in hand, by men and women who are mature enough to listen to each other without judgement. Unfortunately, this seems hard going at the moment - Brexit is proof enough of that. It's not politically correct to say that men might have it harder in some areas of life - but I would imagine a lot of men, particularly those who don't match up to society's expectations of what a man should be, secretly feel this way at times. There are reasons why I often wonder if certain issues in my life - particularly relationships - would have been slightly easier to deal with if I was a woman. But ultimately - we can only truly see things from our own perspective.
There should be as many men doing the inner work as women. Society truly needs this. The abuse and mistreatment of women will only stop if men, collectively, are willing to change. I feel that how we raise the next generation is going to be crucial. We need strong men who are also heart centered. For many years, I have not been strong. Life's challenges battered me and almost destroyed me. But together, we will rise ..