Can a Man Worry and Will it Ever Stop?
Earlier this year, I decided to reactive my Ask.FM account, thus allowing people to send me questions about whatever they feel like. As one would expect, most of these questions have been about relationships and dating, some of them are about life itself. Even the simple dating questions, like whether or not a person should text someone they haven’t heard from in a couple of days, comes with some sort of story before they ask me what they should do. I rarely ever get the kind of questions that are simple to answer such as asking me to list my top five jazz musicians alive, or where is the best place to go for a cup of coffee in Harlem.
But I’m not complaining. The dirty little secret about these questions is they help me too. I answer each question as thoughtfully as I can because on some level, I can relate to most of them. I know what it’s like to stress over an unreturned text. For most of my years dating, there was more confusion than clarity about the women I liked and the women who liked me, or why they didn’t anymore. Hell, I even had to go to therapy because at some point, the questions got too big for me to handle, and too deep for me to confide in my friends about. This means when I tell someone they should seek professional help, I am harnessing my own experience to provide that perspective.
I don’t know if I am giving people the right answers, but I’m confident I know what I’m talking about. (Also, to be real, I ain’t got the time nor the energy to look shit up for other people, so if I get an question that stumps me, I would tell them to look it up and keep it moving.) But no matter how well-versed I come off to others, I don’t think anyone is reaching out to me because, unlike Sway, I have the answers. If I had to guess why people open up to me, I would say it’s because I make people feel comfortable doing so. I’m vulnerable with my readers, so people are vulnerable with me. It’s a fair exchange, and to honor it, I would like to ask all of you a two-part question in hopes of getting some insight at the very least.
If there is one thing that constantly reminds me I am deeply, firmly, thrown-in-the-ocean-with-concrete-shoes-on in love with my girlfriend it’s the constant worry that comes over me when we say goodbye. Whether she’s going on vacation with her family, or simply going to work or coming back from the gym, no amount of activity can occupy me to the point where I am too busy to worry. I am not settled, I am not at peace until her and I are back together, at the same place, at the same time.
Before she came into my life, I had worries, but not ones that involved the well-being of someone I loved. There is my family, of course, but after 15 years of living on the other side of the country from them, I’ve learned to turn down my level of concern for them, and also, knowing they have each other at all times, eases me. I think about them a lot, but I don’t worry about them.
The relationships I dipped in and out of prior to the one I’m in now never overwhelmed me like this. None of that is to take away from those women. I just don’t think I ever gave enough of myself to be more concerned with them than I was with myself. As much as I could grow to care about someone, I was still mostly concerned with me and my own well-being.
In this relationship, I am fully invested in the well-being of someone else, and she is with me. Her and I talk about it every now and then, how we genuinely feel like we’re a team, a unit, designed in the eyes of God to move through this world together. So when her and I have go out in the world without another, I feel handicapped by these haunting ruminations that something may happen to her and I can’t help or be there for her.
If any of this sounds like a sweet sentiment, trust me when I say it is not. I hate feeling like this. I hate it. I hate it with every fiber in my being. To be in love and with a person who makes you happy is a beautiful, wonderful thing, but as bad as people want that, they don’t pay attention to the fine print of this social contract. That fine print basically says you must care about someone else more than you care about yourself. I can’t say enough how stressful that is, and, to be very real, how unmanly it makes me feel.
That’s right. All this worry makes me wonder how manly is the man that worries about such things? When I was growing up, and even now, the men who raised me either never seem to worry or aren’t as open about it as I am. I mean, I know men worry. I know men have all sorts of anxieties. All men are afraid of something, but that can usually be identified. Phobias are real, and no one is immune from them.
What I’m talking about is both abstract and acute. I don’t know what exactly I worry about when Gina and I are apart other than anything that will hurt her or harm or put her in danger. And that can be a bunch of things, I know, but it is THAT particular thing I worry about and anyone who says it’s out of my control, should something happen, spare me. I know that, but that isn’t helping. What I want to know is how to be okay with the fact that I may not be able to shield my lady away from all the world’s dangers. How, y’all? HOW?
If you’re a man who is reading this, your thoughts on the second part of my two part question would be greatly appreciated. But even if you’re not, I still would love to hear from you. Is it okay for a man to worry and whether it is or not, will it ever go away?