Emotional regulation is tough for most anybody, especially men. We live in a society that does not always honor letting men show their feelings openly and we raise boys to believe letting emotions out is negative. This is not a show of weakness and, in fact, can lead to some trauma for men who want to feel they are seen and heard in their emotions. Trauma recovery for men takes notice of the fact many have dealt with repressed feelings and the inability to share emotions openly.
Letting Boys Cry
When men are taught as children not to cry, be sad, or expression emotions that are perceived as weak, they are being taught is not okay to heal. Most men who experience trauma are not encouraged to openly speak about experiences. Core beliefs around masculinity prevent men from stepping forward and letting their feelings be known. There is a lasting stigma surrounding sexual assault and male victims. Men are supposed to be strong, capable and not easily overpowered. Men should be strong, even when they have been sexually abused, shamed, violated, or traumatized. This prevents men from opening up further for fear their will be vulnerable and so they internalize the pain which turns into substance abuse, anger issues, depression, or other issues.
Men may be aware of the experiences they had and what lasting damage was done but they may also be conditioned to believe the trauma they dealt with would produce no negative side effects. They believed their current symptoms are unrelated to past emotional harms. Whatever the case, men either stifle the impact or pretend as if nothing ever happened. They may fail to seek help and support for fear of scrutiny. Men are biologically wired to be more expressive than women. Boys also learn early on that emotional vulnerability is grounds for shame and self-disgust. Men are trained in a way to believe their feelings are not valid.
Trauma recovery is more difficult for men because, even if they are aware of traumatic experiences that separated themselves from painful memories, they maybe have not dealt with all the issues surrounding the trauma. Men are capable of becoming aware and of dealing with their feelings in a way that shapes them and sets the stage for a life of fulfillment and emotional health. They are capable of accepting vulnerability (and humanity) while learning to regulate emotions in a functional way. Society wants to stifle feelings but bringing them into the light is hard work. For men stuck in a vicious cycle and want to break free, they can:
- Seek help for addictions
- Seek support for mental health conditions (preferably in tandem with addictions)
- Seek trained therapists who work with trauma-informed care for men
- Learn to be open rather than resistant to new ideals of masculine behavior and work to gain emotional strength by expressing vulnerability when appropriate
- Breaking stigma in recovery programs that support holistic healing
There is no one way to break through trauma and set a man free on the path to self expression of difficult emotions. It will take time to open up and heal the wounds. What matters is seeking help with trained professionals who understand the issues and can support a man being vulnerable enough to find hope and healing on the other side of recovery.
The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. Our goal is to help men find a peaceful center that allows them to be vulnerable and does not shame them for their emotions. We strive to provide a place of enrichment that cultivates the inner as well as the outer journey of recovery. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.