Gut Rumbles
 

February 18, 2005

being a manly man

I was raised from an early age to NOT show my emotions. It was the hillbilly way. We were tough people and we were supposed to behave that way. You kept what was inside you INSIDE YOU, where it belonged.

Wimmen could cry. That was their job. Grown men pulled their own teeth, with nothing but a shot of moonshine to dampen the pain. They DIDN'T cry. That's how I was raised.

That attitude helped me a lot when I was young, getting in fights or playing football. You could hurt me, but I'd never let you know it. I've been hit so hard on the football field that I KNEW that if I got up, my guts would still be laying in the dirt because I had been evicerated by that hit, but I got up anyway. I wasn't going to lay there and whine. I'd keep playing without intestines if I had to.

I also had a family that didn't believe in a lot of touchy-feely expressions of emotions. We were stoic. Nobody expected to be told "I am LOVED!" You just KNEW it by the way you were treated. I had wonderful parents and a very happy childhood. I wish I could give that same gift to my children.

I tell them both that I love them, but words are cheap. I look back now and see what my parents DID for me and my brother, and I know the shit they waded through to raise us right. That's an impressive feat to me now. I realize how much serious commitment and love it took to get that job done.

My father never told me that he loved me. That wasn't the hillbilly way. I know that he DID, but I wish now, 13 years after his death, that he would have broken down all the barriers just once and said it out loud. But he didn't, and I never saw him cry, either.

My father was a manly-man, and he did his best to raise ME to be one, too. I tried my best for a long time to meet his expectations. But somewhere down the line, I realized that I was different. I couldn't do it his way. I wasn't like my father. I was too emotional.

I still think I'm a manly-man. But I'll cry on occasion, and I'll damn sure tell you that I love you if I do.

Comments

"I still think I'm a manly-man. But I'll cry on occasion, and I'll damn sure tell you that I love you if I do."

My father was (is) a COMPLETE stoic too.
I was raised that way. I spent most of my life that way.
But, I changed, at least a bit. It's better.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on February 18, 2005 01:16 PM

A-man,
I was raised that way too. I think it was a generational thing. Your and my father's generation were that WWII, "greatest generation" crowd and that's just the way men were raised and that's the way they raised their boys. He would write "I love you" on a birthday or Christmas card to me and of course I KNEW it, but I just wanted to hear it every once in a while. I also have spent my life trying to impress him and we have worked together in the family business for over 30 years. I have done some great things for the business in my day and some really stupid things as well but I have never once received so much as one "atta boy", "good job" - nothing. However, rest assured, for every fuckup I received an ass chewing.

I don't remember hearing my father tell me that he loved me until last fall, when I was sick and at a real low point and we were talking together alone. I was desperate for what I had wanted to hear all my life and figured I might not be around much longer, so I just stood up, put my arms around him and told him I loved him. He told me he loved me too, in a kind of choked up voice. It probably never would have happened if I hadn't done that.

I'm like you in that I don't cry a lot but I do on occassion and I'm not wired up like him. I'm not that stoic. A good and wise friend of mine told me a couple of years ago that his Dad was the same way too and that their philosophy from that generation was simply this: "Why the hell should I congratulate you for doing what the hell is expected of you?" Good point I guess, however, a little positive reinforcement now and again is not necessarily a bad thing either.

Posted by: Drugstore Cowboy on February 18, 2005 02:15 PM

Yep, raised the same way..Decided it was pure de crap and raised mine differently. Put 4 boys and 1 girl out in the world that can say the words and give the hugs.
I am taking care of Mom right now and know my feelings would be better if I had received some affection as a child.

Posted by: Sharon on February 18, 2005 02:47 PM

Ditto.

The one time Dad expressed his feelings was at a family wedding. Dad, my brother, and I were all in the bag and Dad had just gone after the groom for insulting the Bride, his niece. My brother and I took Dad for a walk to defuse the situation. I blurted out "I love you, Dad!" He said "I love you too. Now, give me your car keys. You're too drunk to drive!

He's been gone ten years now but I'm still learning things about him.

Posted by: Larry Kephart on February 18, 2005 02:49 PM

I think I've seen my father cry once in my lifetime, and that was at his father's funeral. I barely remember it, I was only eight. But I think he might have cried. I'm not nearly as tough as my dad is, though. And I don't think I ever will be.

You have this amazing ability to post things about your life that make me reflect on mine. There's some similarity, despite the age difference, in how our parents raised us. I wish I could blog as well about life as you do, Acidman.

Posted by: Adam Lawson on February 18, 2005 04:20 PM

My Dad was the same way. It took me until I was an adult to understand that he showed love by what he did for us. He's gone now but I still wish he would have said " I love you" just once.

Posted by: Sue on February 19, 2005 08:00 AM

Michele and I were "the strong ones". We both have difficulty showing our emotions. We can't cry because we have always had to support our younger sisters in times of great sorrow. I don't remember whether or not my parents told us "I love you" in words but they certainly did in deeds. I saw my father cry every time he went to my mom's grave. Now Michele is facing a tough future and we will all be there to support her. And we will all learn to say "I love you".

Posted by: NBC on February 21, 2005 01:33 AM

Education may be a factor as well as cultural changes within a society. My father was the most adorable man - loved by all.

He only finished primary school, but he was so bright he became a teacher, and finished up as a radio broadcaster in my native language - Yoruba. He had his own weekly half hour of "Ewi" broadcast on our local radio which he involved me in preparing.

His generation was generally not very highly educated, and held simple cultural values and did not touch their children (no hugs / kisses, or expressions of loving emotion). People are changing now, with more Western education and influence.

My father showed his love by his actions, his sense of humour, openness and honesty and his grace. He never said he loved me directly. I felt very loved and appreciated, and I had several given middle names and he called by a different name depending on how he felt. I vividly recall that everytime he called me by a certain one, he was angry at something I had done (or failed to do). When he was very thrilled he called me by a special one. There was one for everyday things as well.

Now I tell my children I love them, often, but my son just brushes it aside, as though embarrassed. My daughter is okay with it and says "I love you" back. My son even said not to call him "honey" when he was just eight! Sadly, like him I am not touchy-feely (I just can't do it) - but they understand.

Rest in perfect peace, dad. You were the best dad anyone could have.

Thanks for sharing and providing a space for others to share their experiences, AcidMan!

Posted by: Oluremi7 on August 12, 2009 11:02 AM
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