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One of the oldest sayings in the world is that Real Men Don’t Cry!

This is supposed to be a truth for anyone who sees himself as a real man! What an absolute RUBBISH!

Back home (I come from the Balkans originally) we have been thought from a small age that boys and men don’t cry and that you have to keep fighting whatever the situation is. I remember my own father saying and pointing out to me a couple of times that crying wasn’t an option for a boy/man. When you are that age, you don’t question your father’s words and you just go by them.

Also, we have a saying back home that if you do cry you are a “sissy” or a “faggot”, meaning to say that you are a small, insignificant or just a weak person who can’t do anything on their own!

So, how is this possible that a few years later after going through a lot of rough patches in my life, I found myself as a grown-up man sitting in the middle of the shower and crying, knowing that I am not a sissy nor a faggot, but I was feeling low and hurt! So, now what?!

Was all that which I have been told by my father and which I upheld sacred before just one big lie? YES, it was!

Where there any other options available for boys or men in this situation? Was there ever a ‘plan B’ for us? I asked myself these questions many times...

Today I understand that even my father, the person who was always telling me not to cry when life hit’s you hard and I always thought he was the strongest man alive, cried a good few times when those harsh life moments pinned him down and he couldn’t see a proper way out from a difficult situation, and yes I was able to see him in such a bad state in which no man should be seen, especially not in front of his kids!

Those that know me, know that I am a very tough person who didn’t have an easy childhood due to the stupid war in Ex-Yugoslavia and then losing my father under suspicious circumstances pretty quickly after the reintegration of our part of the country where we lived back into Croatian territories. Soon after that, I moved to Ireland as a very young man (fighting and working my ass off to support my Mum and my sister as they were left behind), trying to integrate the best way possible into Irish society by working hard, starting a young family (which didn’t work out the way I intended) and then choosing a completely different path in my life. In the meantime, I graduated from University and started my own business which was a hard time for me back then, but I made it through and I didn’t look back.

Today, after everything I went through I see my life in a better light and I am doing everything I can to be a good father to my kids and an even better partner to my beautiful wife. So, yes my life wasn’t too easy, but I never felt as I did that day under the shower!

I don’t usually cry and I always try to keep a positive and encouraging attitude towards everything in my life, but this time I found myself feeling crushed and hurt, standing under that pouring water which felt like a shower of rocks with each drop that fell on top of me.

Was this due to the pressure of life, or did I just have enough on my plate, or was it due to all the stuff I had to deal with at the same time at this point of my life… I really don’t know… I just knew that standing there after I cried it out, I spit out the words from my mouth that are still carved into my mind — “You Won’t Break Me”!

I wonder, why no one couldn’t explain to me before that it is normal and it is OK to cry from time to time even if you are a ”big bald strong man”!

We all need to let those horrible feelings (or demons) out that keep us down, doesn’t matter who you are, so you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else around you. Many people, especially men are trying to find an ‘easy way’ out from these harsh situations that they find themselves in (due to the pressure of life, finances, work, family issues, etc…) and instead of asking for help or expressing themselves, they do horrible things (usually to themselves) without thinking.

If you need to cry it out, do so, it is OK and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

We should be addressing these issues, as soon as you find yourself or you see anyone going through a rough patch. Don't be shy and don't find it awkward, to ask yourself or that specific person if they are OK.

It won’t cost you a lot, but it could be very beneficial to them and you. By doing this, you might be saving someone’s life!

Also, we should be talking more about men’s mental health issues openly and why we shouldn’t have to hide our vulnerable side.

I know that for me this was just a moment of weakness where I had to “steam out” and find myself and my inner strength once again, to be able to keep fighting and stay positive. So, I want all of my friends (especially men) to know that I am here for you if you need me or you just want to talk.

Stay safe, stay humble and reach out if you want or need to talk to someone.

Regards,

Srdan KO

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