It was three weeks after I left the last residential treatment center for which I would ever work. A Saturday morning to be precise, and the phone rang- jarring me from the rare pleasure of a sleep in. It was Camille, so I knew it wasn’t good.
She wouldn’t call me if it were good
“You remember that boy Johnny you worked with, the one from Louisiana?” she asked.
“Dead,” she said. It was uttered in the tone of someone doing a poor job acting like they didn’t like delivering bad news.
“Drugs?” I asked.
“No,” she replied, “Suicide. Killed that little girl he was married to, as well. And shot some guy she was sleepin’ with, but he made it.”
I just lay there silent.
“Anyway, I knew you would want to know.”
I hung up without saying anything else. Knew I would want to know? My ass. Couldn’t wait to tell me was more like it. The bitch was a feminist crusader. She made a career of telling the men we counseled what louts they were for being men, and I made a career of pulling them aside and telling them how full of shit she was. We were the only two counselors in that program and the mix was volatile. I spent many days in the administrative offices fending off complaints about my “unusual style” in dealing with male clients. That is what they called not hating them.
Johnny wasn’t the first in twenty years of doing that kind of work. Quite honestly, I had lost count. But counting is just for statistics anyway. In the work I did the numbers had faces. They had families and stories that I learned from listening to them. And they had pain that mostly went unnoticed by the very people that were supposed to be there to help them.
I remembered Johnny’s story, and his pain. He was a twenty two year old stock boy at an auto parts store in the hot and humid swamp lands of southern Louisiana. When he spoke, it was with rural earnestness, and a Cajun accent thicker than gators in bayou country.
“Man, Paul, I doan know what to do ‘bout that girl o’ mine. I know she cheatin’. I know I doan make a dime what she don’t spend right away. Sometime she spend it on some other guy. But I can’t help it. Every time she call my name I got to come runnin’. Lord never made a bigger fool than me.”
And Johnny was right. He was a fool, and couldn’t be talked out of his foolishness. Just like all real men. And his story isn’t reserved just for those who drink and drug themselves into oblivion because they have a woman they can’t live with, or without.
In this awful age of misandry, we live so many lies about men that we have lost all touch with the reality of what they are really like. And the cost of it is written in caskets and countless souls lost in a world with no memory of why they died.
You see, men love. They love with the most profound intensity and selflessness of which any creature on this earth is capable. And the steely bond between them and women is, unlike their hearts, unbreakable. When men die on the battlefield, they often fade away telling fellow soldiers “Tell my wife I love her.” Others cry out for their mothers as blood soaks the soil.
They are flattened by divorce, and many will eat a gun rather than face the loss, even if it is the loss of someone that has already destroyed their lives.
They will lay down in traffic for the women they love and stand in the way of bullets to protect them. And they will strike down any many who dares offend them. They have been doing this for all of human history.
79% of all suicides are men.
If you want the statistics, go look them up. I am tired of turning dead men into numbers and “proving” there is a problem to the Camille’s of this world.
I hope, more than anything else, that at some point in our future that people start to think. When you see the story on the evening news about a man who set himself ablaze outside a family court, ask yourself what kind of pain could drive someone to cure it with fire? When you read in the newspaper about the man who holed up in his house with a gun and his children, threatening to take them all out, ask yourself if this is just a crazy man, or a man driven to the brink by a pain so monstrous and devastating that even the unthinkable could become an option?
During divorce, men kill themselves at 10 times the rate of women.
And this in a culture that still raises men to put women in lifeboats and then try their hand at breathing saltwater, as though death were their only true calling.
Is it any wonder why, when we create men to so devalue their own existence; to be disposable, that we can so often see them doing just what we have insisted that they do? And shouldn’t we, perhaps, question at times whether it is suicide that takes these men… or murder? Who, after all, is putting the gun in their hands and promising them the pain will stop if they only pull the trigger?
Perhaps Obama, in his own erroneous way, is right. We do need better Dads. We need Dads to teach their sons, not “how to treat a woman,” but how hold their own with them. We don’t need to teach them to “take care of their woman,” but to only accept one who demonstrates the character and integrity to be trusted, from the start.
And we need to teach them how rare that is in modern life. More than anything else, we need to teach them how to let women go, and watch them as they grow up to make sure they can do it. And we need Dads to role model that, in their own families with their own wives. In other words, we need to do a lot of things that we are not doing.
I know it is obligatory. I can’t write a piece like this and not include some resources for men to call in in times of crisis, such as those paltry resources are. So I will include something at the end. But I would still like to think, that somewhere, at some point in time, we can quit offering Band-aids for men to put on tumors and start helping them with their real problems.
It seems, hell or high water, that we are going to continue to destroy men in courtrooms and therapy offices and offer them up as convenient political fodder. It isn’t anything new. But we better start calling on the fathers of this world to stop raising their sons to do nothing more than stand against a wall for whatever woman is in their lives, just waiting for their turn in a box.