NFL Super Bowl 2015 was definitely one for the record books. With Tom Brady and Deflate-gate, the non-story of Richard Sherman and his pregnant girlfriend, and the re-emergence of Missy Elliot—there’s much to talk about when it comes to Super Bowl XLIX.
For me, it’s not Katy Perry’s ascent on NBC’s “The More you Know” star that lingers in my mind. It’s the uneasiness I felt while watching Malcolm Butler cry on screen after his game winning interception to clinch victory for the New England Patriots.
I remember shouting at the television during the final moments of game, “Is he still crying?” and “Enough with the crying already!” after each camera shot of Butler from the sidelines.
My brother, a true sports fanatic, tried to explain Butler’s unabashed and completely justified emotion having just made the game winning play at the Super Bowl.
“…I guess,” I replied shaking my head, still visibly showing my disdain for Butler’s wellspring of jubilation.
It wasn’t until a few days later while listening to On Being’s recent podcast with Brene Brown that I began to better understand my almost visceral reaction to male vulnerability, no matter how justified it may be. Outside of the death of a loved one, the birth of a baby or perhaps wedding day bliss—I really don’t like to see men cry. Furthermore, the more publicly displayed it is, the more unsettling it becomes for me.
On a daily basis, I consciously make it my business to be self-aware, recognize shame triggers, practice self-compassion and mindfully live from a place of sufficiency. No, seriously, I really am putting in the work! So why then is it so hard for me and my highly-evolved self (lol) to appreciate when a man taps into his emotions to expresses his inner self in outward display?
During the podcast (at 24:30), Brene Brown, author and guru of everything relating to shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living said:
If you show me a woman who can sit with a man in real vulnerability–in deep fear–and be with him in it, I will show you a woman who a) has done the work and b) does not derive her power from that man. And if you show me a man who can sit with a woman in deep struggle and vulnerability and not try to fix it and just hear her and hold space for it, I’ll show you a man who has done his work and does not derive his power from trying to control everything.
Pretty huge nugget of wisdom, right?!?
Is it that I need or expect men to be the equal and opposite force to my ever feeling, constantly emoting state of being? Does my world go wonky when the men in my life find themselves void of answers, wrought with emotion or transparent with their own vulnerability? I would definitely say wonky on a good day but at its worst, my disdain teeters at a loss of respect. I am obviously still a work in progress.
Of course, I want the men in my life (dad, brother, uncles, cousins, significant other, male friends, etc.) to open up and let me in. I must admit, though, I don’t really have the stomach for it. This is certainly an underdeveloped muscle in me. After several minutes, he’s likely to hear a “man-up” or “shake it off” from me. I know…I’m shaking my own head at myself. We women, according to Brown in the podcast and her book, Daring Greatly, say we want men to be vulnerable but we don’t truly know how to handle it. I think it’s time for some serious strength training on the subject.
I vow to “create space” for the men in my life to be vulnerable. I know firsthand how therapeutic a good cry can be. For, I am no stranger to being overwhelmed, side-swiped and bulldozed to the point of tears by life’s twists and turns. Apparently, this is a human phenomenon not just reserved for those with two X chromosomes. We ALL need space to be and feel. So the next time I bear witness to an emoting man, I will try to offer up the same space I so desperately crave from others.
Photo credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2935947/Scrap-undrafted-rookie-makes-winning-play-Patriots.html