No More Gutterballs, Grandpa
When I was 9 or 10, my maternal grandma and his second wife came to visit us in Houston from Missouri. They took us bowling two days in a row. That was one of their favorite activities. We’d go to their local bowling alley whenever we’d to see them. There wasn’t much else in the Ozarks to keep us occupied. Often I’d get frustrated and cry because I wasn’t performing well. I was only a child who didn’t know better. All I wanted was to make strikes and spares. The frequent gutterballs took their toll on my pride. Grandpa would always scold me for my outbursts. Crying was forbidden under his watch. I remember the last time like yesterday. I was about to have a meltdown when I noticed Grandpa staring at me and shaking his finger.
Avenge Me, Boys
The point I’m making is we live in a society where it’s not acceptable for boys or men to express their emotions in any way, shape, or form. A prime example comes from the 1984 classic Red Dawn. That movie is about a backdoor Soviet invasion of the United States. A group of teenage rebels led by Patrick Swayze called The Wolverines after their school mascot fight back. Swayze and his younger brother played by Charlie Sheen encounter their POW father portrayed by Harry Dean Stanton opposite a chain-linked fence. They know he’s about to die. Stanton tells his sons he was tough on them for a reason and orders them not to cry. The character implies they’ve gone soft for exhibiting emotions. One of the last things he says before they leave is, “Boys, avenge me!” In other words, the only things they were allowed to feel were anger and rage. Remorse and sorrow were verboten. I’m not reviled by the disposition of Stanton or my granddad. I chalk it up as them being relics of their time from a different generation where men were expected to be Alpha males and toxic masculinity was unheard of.
Nice Guys Pay; Bad Boys Lay
Much of this sentiment surrounded me every day I was in military school and the Coast Guard. I’m not a big fan of third and fourth wave feminists. Some of their ideas I find a bit extreme, but I agree with them upon the fact that toxic masculinity must be addressed head on. It’s detrimental in the long run. This I surmise is why there’s more male sociopaths and hardened criminals than female ones. There’s too much of it in professional sports as well in my humble opinion. America has become a society where the dating culture has told us nice guys who show compassion are weak while bad boys who display aggression are strong, dominant, and what women want. Sensitivity and social awkwardness equal creepiness whereas cockiness and brash behavior equate to confidence the latter of which makes the ladies drool and cream. Too often I see this has seeped its way into the dating culture. Everywhere I look without fail, dating gurus male and female say nice guys finish last while bad boys win the girls. By the time the girls catch on and realize bad boys are harmful, it’s too late. We’re told they’ve hit the wall and are no longer marketable. I’ve grown so cynical; I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Suck it Up, Buttercup
The media makes it seem like we can control our emotions 24/7 like Vulcans. The human race hasn’t evolved to that point. It was no secret I was suffering from anxiety and depression in the military. I didn’t get sentimental, but it made me bitter and harbor loads of resentment. I stated in my last note why I hate everything about the East Coast of the United States and the military. Doing everything the exact opposite of how I was trained in the services like wearing the complimentary colors, starting off with the other foot, hanging and folding my clothes the other direction, growing facial hair, and living in other countries the GOP demonizes were my coping mechanism from the trauma. I’m not allowed to discuss my feelings because nobody wants to hear it. Everyone thinks you can snap out of depression which is anything but true. To forgive and forget is easier said than done. The first part I might be attainable, but I can’t envision myself ever doing the latter. Once trust is lost, it’s almost impossible to gain back.
Explore Your Sentiments
One stereotype about Asperger’s especially males is that we don’t feel empathy or exhibit emotions. This is one of the primary reasons we’re mistaken for sociopaths. We’re not allowed to show it because that’s what the media has told us. All I’m allowed to exude is anger or joy not fear, guilt, or sadness. Last year, I remember watching Interstellar on Netflix. It’s about a farmer turned astronaut played by Matthew McConaughey who travels into space to find a planet to terraform as Earth becomes uninhabitable. Anne Hathaway plays his co-pilot and one of three scientists. Before the mission, McConaughey achieves the insurmountable task of saying goodbye to his children. He mentions to his daughter they may be the same age when he returns. The viewer disregards this in the beginning, but then it starts to catch on. There’s a scene where McConaughey retrieves his daughter’s messages on the intercom. Later you see she’s grown up. His adult daughter, played by Jessica Chastain, gives him the rundown over what happened over the years. That scene broke me in two. I couldn’t help myself because it hit too close to home. It made me reflect on my own life.
Family is All in the End
One of my biggest regrets is not spending more time with my niece and nephew between the time I left Thailand and went home before my next assignment in Vietnam in spring 2016. I’d been gone and hadn’t seen my family in person for two years while watching Interstellar. The background music compounded the situation. Luckily, it was in the privacy of my own home. I would’ve been embarrassed had I let it out in public. I went into the bathroom and took a shower to cleanse myself afterwards. I could count on one hand the time number of times I conversed with my family via Skype and Facebook not including when we spent Christmas together online. My niece, who was in elementary school last time I’d seen her, was now the same age as my middle school students. It still bothered me the next day at work, and my coworkers asked if I was okay. I was going to travel to Australia with a friend during the summer of 2018, but I cancelled those plans. Not only was I low on funds, I feared I would never to get to see my family again. I can always venture to Australia or wherever later on, but only get to see the kids grow up once.
Beard Away the Sorrow, Hair’s a Tissue
I don’t know if anyone else notices, but you almost never see a man with a beard or facial hair get upset and break down on screen. It’s as if Hollywood and society have told us it’s even less forgivable if a bearded man exhibits emotion. They’ve placed a higher standard on him than his hairless counterpart. He’s supposed to be strong and dominant and show zero weakness. The only time he may get a free pass is if someone in his immediate family dies. I mentioned before I never grew a beard until after I moved abroad, but luckily I was clean-shaven when I watched Interstellar. If you think long and hard enough, when was the last time you ever saw a man cry with a beard? I’ll bet the readers can only count that on one hand if not one finger. This is why I feel it’s imperative that Hollywood activists address this issue and stop dispensing the message that it’s not okay for grown men or boys to express their emotions the same way women and girls do. Ridding society of the stigma towards mental health, therapy, and the need for antidepressants and anxiety pills would be nice, moreover. If Donald Trump isn’t an expert on politics or economics, I’d say it’s a safe bet neither is Tom Cruise on behalf of psychotherapy.