We interviewed Owen in our BBXX podcast interview, “The Body Knows Best.” He’s a professional coach and the Co-Founder of Evryman.
VULNERABILITY AS A MAN.
I grew up being taught, not by any single person but by culture, to be tough, to be unemotional, and not to show pain—particularly emotional pain.
At the price of my relationships, I became good at these skills. I worked hard in high school to ‘be a man.’
It was in college, when I fell in love, that my rigid world came tumbling down on my house of emotional cards. I transferred colleges; she moved to Cleveland to start a new job.
The separation was painful. I was in a new school, without my love. I was lonely. It turns out she was lonely, too. She started dating a new fellow and she ended the relationship with me.
That breakup destroyed me.
At first, I dealt with my pain as any ‘real man’ would; I drank, hooked up with women, and did my best to deny my pain. Fortunately, my pain would not be denied. My emotions tore holes in me. I cried for the first time since I was a child.
A couple of years later, I found myself back in the space of emotional openness I was after my breakup. But this time, the pain was not specific to any relationship. It was my years of repressed pain releasing.
After that ‘awakening,’ I was in another relationship, and I wasn’t intentionally controlling myself, the relationship, or my experience of it. In hindsight, I realized that I began to be vulnerable.
It was if I went from living in a black-and-white world to a world in full color. I realized that this was only “the appetizer,” and the main course came when I started working with other men and learned a new level of vulnerability: “assertive vulnerability.”
Now, my partner and I teach how to use vulnerability as the conduit to connection. Being a formerly emotionally contained man, I have a knack for helping men connect to their experience—and from there to connect with their partner.
Every week in my men’s group, I hone my skills of being vulnerable as a man. I haven’t mastered it, but I do have nourishing relationships.