Updated: Mar 20
A couple of weeks ago I took this photo in the midst of a mental health breakdown. As I sat there staring at the sea, I spent a good hour contemplating whether to head back home to see my kids before bedtime, or whether to take a swim out to sea and leave the outcome in the hands of fate. Every part of my being wanted to get into that water, but only one thing led me back home. My eldest daughter. I’d already broken her so badly off the back of my accident, and I knew if I disappeared on her again I’d permanently affect her wellbeing. Regardless of how much I hated myself in this moment, my love for her far exceeded this. So I headed back home, kissed her good night and watched her head off to bed with my Husband. Even then, I still kept my coat and shoes on, because there was still no certainty in my mind that I could bring myself to stay.
I was failing as a parent, as a husband, as a business owner and as a human. I had lost my joy, my purpose and all self worth. The self love that I so often preach was well and truly gone. And to be honest, it’d been absent for some time. This wasn’t a fleeting feeling or a spontaneous action, it’d been sitting there a while. I’d tried to talk to people about it on several occasions, I’d tried to express my feelings through my writing, I’d even opened up to a professional about it. And I hadn’t necessarily felt understood or felt that I was able to articulate myself safely enough to allow people to understand. In fact, my counsellor offered me some deeply disturbing advice that made me hate myself even more, then my trust was broken and I felt there was literally no one in the World I could trust or turn to.
It’s hard enough being a sensitive man in a World of toxic masculinity, it’s even harder living in a World where being honest about your struggles and feelings leads to a licensed professional suggesting that you give your children up. And no, this wasn’t a suggestion based on safeguarding. This was a suggestion based on my feelings of struggle and guilt following my accident. It’s no wonder that men abandoning their families and suicide in men are both so frighteningly common. Because we have nobody to talk to. We are too scared, too ashamed and too judged for being honest and vulnerable.
You may be wondering why I’m writing this post. It’s most certainly not for attention, I don’t really care about sympathy or validation. It’s simply about being honest and open. The more men that can be honest and open about their struggles, the quicker this World is going to change and heal. Then for all those little boys, our sons, brothers, nephews, cousins, grandchildren…maybe, just maybe, our honesty can prevent them from suffering the same fate.
It’s time to end toxic masculinity.
❌ Man up
❌ Boys don’t cry
❌ Stiff upper lip
❌ Toughen up
❌ Boys will be boys
❌ Suck it up
❌ Don’t be such a girl
❌ That’s gay
❌ Don’t be a wimp
❌ Channel it into sports
❌ Have a drink and forget about it
❌ Get over it
❌ Stop attention seeking
💛 We need to normalise talking about the uncomfortable things
💛 We need to normalise being honest
💛 We need to normalise therapy
💛 We need to normalise sensitivity
💛 We need to normalise calling out toxic behaviour
💛 We need to normalise men talking to other men about their issues
💛 We need to normalise showing little boys that it’s ok to be vulnerable
💛 We need to normalise healthy self expression
💛 We need to normalise non-judgment
💛 We need to normalise our struggles
💛 We need to normalise mental health
Please, share this with the men in your life. Help those struggling dads, sons,brothers, grandads, nephews, cousins and friends to understand that there is another way. That there is hope. That they are not alone. And that we are all ambassadors for the little boys this World.
If you, or someone you love needs a man to talk to, please reach out.
One last thing…this moment changed everything. I took this photo because somehow I knew I needed to remember this moment. It opened up a very meaningful conversation with my Husband. It broke some barriers and released some deeply suppressed stuff. I can’t say that I’ve fully found my happy again yet, but I can say there’s been a significant shift. And I truly hope to be able to share more of my honesty going forward.
A slightly happier and relieved Luke 💛🙏🏻
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