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Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Your Confidence Is Shattered - A Guide for Men and Those Who Love Them

Call it PTSD, call it trauma, call it depression or whatever you will, nothing lowers the boom on guys like something that shatters your confidence. Job loss can do it; loss of a loved one you believe you should have been able to protect; financial disaste;, the horrors of war; disability - anything that represents an overwhelming defeat for a man can trigger such a crisis.
Sometimes when your confidence has been shattered, getting back up on your horse seems more like scaling Mt. Everest.  At those times, you find that lots of people who have never been through what you've been through all line up at your door to tell you to pull yourselves up by the bootstraps.

Yeah? Well what if you've lost your bootstraps? If you don't have bootstraps anymore how do you pull yourself up by them? What's a man do then?

Women who love you will want to get inside your head and find out what's really going on. Therapsists want you to talk it out. Femininsts want you to get in touch with your feminine side because, supposedly men are less in touch with their emotions that women are.

A recent study found that men are more likely to cry over a song on the radio than women?  Men have always had powerful emotions. Sure we stuff 'em sometimes. We know how scary it is to see a man break down and cry his heart out. If you've ever seen your father cry, you know what I mean. As men, we know how unsettling that is and we try not to let others see us when we lose it emotionally.  So, don't assume that because men don't display emotions, that it means they don't have them.

A crushed spirit is difficult to mend. It's tough to find the bootstraps to pull on at times like these, particularly for men.  We often resist help. We put up walls. We isolate ourselves. The way back can be long and hard. Sometimes it's a matter of finding someone to help you stitch your bootstraps back on or at the very least, figuring out a way to do it yourself. They say time heals, but that's not strictly true.

It is not time that heals, but how we put time to use. Sometimes it's a struggle of inches. Sometimes you come roaring back, charge over the hill and damn the guns. Whatever works, it's your struggle and yours alone. A man stands alone most times, even when he stands shoulder to shoulder with friends; even when he is being held upright by his loved ones because he cannot stand on his one. Every man must reach down inside of himself at those moments and find the strength that God has given him to rise again and be a man.

My wife, one night while we were watching the movie, "The Odd Couple" suddenly said, "I just love men." Surprised, I asked her why. She tried to explain, but all she could come up with was, "Women would never do that for each other." I think what she found appealing in men is that even though we're often aloof, sometimes exhasperating and usually uncommunicative, we always rise to the occasion in a crisis.  Men stubbornly struggle on even when the odds don't look good. Men, by and large, are fiercely loyal to their friends, their families and to those they feel a duty to protect.

A man who has been knocked down, who has had his inner fires beat down to ashes, if you ask him what he's doing to cope, is likely to tell you something vague like, "I'm working on it." It's because he knows that in the end, he works out his own salvation. It is a thing between himself and his God and ultimately no one else can rebuild that fire for him. His true friends understand this and do not press. All that his friends and loved ones can do for him is sit beside him in companionable silence while he strikes flint against steel again and again and again until the spark catches and the flame relights. When he can again contribute, he will rejoin the circle. Till then, best to be patient and give him time.

Men are, after all, surprisingly solitary creatures when you get right down to it.

Tom King - Tyler, TX (2011)

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