Boys boys boys
Boys boys boys We like boys in cars Boys boys boys Buy us drinks in bars Boys boys boys With hairspray and denim Boys boys boys We love them! (We love them)
- Lady Gaga
On Monday of this week, I awoke to the news that another mass shooting had taken place in the U.S. This time, 59 people were killed and approximately 500 were injured at the hands of a gunman who busted the windows out of his Mandalay Bay Resort hotel room in Las Vegas so he could fire shots into a crowd attending a country music festival. I fought the urge to stay in bed with my cats and instead dragged myself to work. I saw a tweet that day where a young man in his 20s remarked that his was the third time in his short lifetime that he’d heard a shooting referred to as the “worst mass shooting in U.S. history”. A short backwards glance in the gloomy rolodex of my mind, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado, says he’s probably right.
This isn’t a post about gun control, mental illness or politics. I'm not defending shooters. It’s a p ost about connectedness and let’s throw in a heaping scoop of vulnerability for good measure. I’m not a mental health professional, sociologist or similar. I do, however, work in human resources and I’m married to a very observant woman who, not too long before this recent tragedy observed, “Guys are lonely.” I might have chuckled at this thought but couldn’t disagree with her when she proffered up a few examples.
Following the Vegas shooting, I read an article written by a mental health professional where he described “what’s eroding men’s emotional health”. The author, Charlie Hoehn, states that men are chronically lonely, without confidants or male friends who they can be vulnerable with. I read that and wondered, “Well, yeah. Or any friend that they’re willing and able to be vulnerable with. Hoehn says that men “spend their time posturing instead”. I refer to posturing as being a douche canoe and a fraud. My non-professional opinion of course. Hoehn says it better – pointing out that men spend the majority of their adult lives without deeper friendships or any real sense of community. What’s more is most men lack the ability to release anger or sadness in a healthy way.
Following my starter marriage, to a guy, I began to date Andrea. This was a surprise to many, myself included. I recall, early on, describing to a friend what it was that attracted me to her and held my attraction, my friend replied matter-of-factly, “You’d better stick with her. You’ll never get that kind of emotional intimacy (that’s important to you) from any guy.”
Yesterday, the media reported that the shooter had scouted Boston and Chicago as possible locations to presumably unleash his carnage. This news spurred a lively text exchange between a group of women I am friends with. We collectively refer to ourselves as “the tribe”. On this thread, people were vulnerable – admitting they were afraid and would likely not attend a show again like the Lady Gaga show that we’d attended just last month. Others were in solidarity with the guy pictured in this photo who was captured giving the Vegas shooter the finger (this photo was taken from a video and has been verified as authentic - I hope he made it out) . Determined to live our lives even with the knowledge that threats exist where we should be able to feel safe and let our guard down.
I wonder how many men have a group of men in their lives that they refer to as their “tribe”? Or a confidant to whom they could admit that they no longer felt safe attending a show with?
Do I think that guys getting real with one another or their spouses is going to end mass shootings? I don’t purport to have the answer to what would stop mass shootings. But I do agree with Brene Brown when she says, ““We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” So resist the urge to be a douche canoe or a fraud. Have a real, honest, vulnerable conversation. I realize we’re living in trying times so this isn’t always easy, particular when someone expresses an opinion that differs from your own. Listen. Create safe space where people can be honest and vulnerable and real.