With so many messages and stereotypes of men as cold, emotionally detached, and heartless, it’s easy for a young man to assume that the only gender that really feels is women. However, when that high-speed train of overwhelming emotion finally hits, men are often shaken to their core. And they realize, like Adam did, that women aren’t the only ones with hearts and powerful emotions. Men hurt, too.
My longest relationship was with a very close friend I never thought I would be with. When I graduated from high school, I was working as a pedicab driver in downtown San Jose. I was making decent money for someone who had just graduated. When I finally lost my virginity to her, it was a week before I turned 19. She became pregnant and we didn’t realize it until it was a month and a half later. And my mom was the first person to find out.
When I came home, she was pissed off at me. She’d seen something in my phone. It turns out my girlfriend had sent me the picture of a positive pregnancy test. I told my mom I’d done everything I could to be protected. And in that moment, my mom asked me what I planned to do about it. I saw that as an opportunity to be what my father wasn’t for me at that time: a father figure for my child and his mother. So, I called my girlfriend and told her that no matter what we would figure out a way to be a family.
When I came home, [my mom] was pissed off at me. She’d seen something in my phone. It turns out my girlfriend had sent me the picture of a positive pregnancy test.
At the time, she was going to college and her parents were paying for it. I knew that I didn’t want her to drop out of school. I had a good job, but I’d experienced all kinds of dangerous things on my job, from being nearly jumped twice to almost being run over. But despite the danger, I knew I didn’t want to end up struggling every single day because I’d experienced that as a child.
I told my girlfriend I would go back to school and get two jobs throughout the pregnancy. And once it got closer to her having the baby, I would quit the pedicab job and be there for her. At the time, she felt like she was making me do that, even though I told her it was a clear, conscious choice I was making for our child, and that it’s what I wanted to do. It was a part of my plan for our family.
Throughout the first four or five months, we spoke about the baby in secret–my mom was the only adult that knew, and she was very supportive because she saw that I was taking responsibility for my child. But shit hit the fan when her parents found out. Even though her parents were devout Catholics who had a strong opinion about abortion, when they found out their daughter was pregnant, the first thing they said was, “get rid of it.”
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be her, but it definitely hurt me. We’d decided to keep the baby, but even though we’d made that commitment, there was a lot of friction between us. Her parents didn’t like me. She was under a lot of stress, and she was also upset that I wasn’t attending parenting classes because I preferred to work and save money for the baby. Eventually, it came to a point where she said she was going to have a procedure done, but I don’t know if it was because she’d had a miscarriage or if it was actually an abortion.
Even though her parents were devout Catholics who had a strong opinion about abortion, when they found out their daughter was pregnant, the first thing they said was, “get rid of it.”
When she finally made the decision to get the procedure done, I didn’t want her to have to go through it alone, so I did everything I could to try and figure out when and where her appointment was so I could be there with her. When I asked her where it was going to be, she just told me to go to her father, who we both knew didn’t want anything to do with me. When I called her the next day to ask her when it was going to happen, she said it was already done. I never felt so heartbroken.
It was in that moment that I realized that women weren’t the only ones who always got hurt, but that men got hurt, too. I bawled my eyes out and I remember my mother telling me that the hardest thing for her was to see me crumble in front of her.
At a certain point, my drive kicked into overdrive when I made a commitment to be the best man and father I could be for the child I’d lost. I went overboard and was working five jobs and going to school. One day I went to my friend’s church and I decided to go up to the altar on my own. And that’s when I remember a man told me that there was something inside me that I felt was my fault, but that it really wasn’t.
It was in that moment that I realized that women weren’t the only ones who always got hurt, but that men got hurt, too. I bawled my eyes out…
He said I’d been holding on to it. In that moment, I never cried so hard in my life; my legs went weak, everything went dark, and I just cried. That was after a year when I thought everything had happened.
For myself, I ended up going through the process of trying to figure out what a man is supposed to do after that point. But just when I thought I’d been able to make it through that pain, my ex-girlfriend shared with me the gender of our child–it was a boy. And then she also told me what would have been his birthday, had he still been alive. She swore up and down that she had already told me, but I knew that I would never have forgotten something like that. Before I knew it, I started grieving all over again. But eventually, I managed to claw my way through it, and learn to keep going–for my son.
But a really big change occurred when I was able to understand it was okay to hurt, understand you’ve been hurt, and to be vulnerable. And most importantly, to learn that if I had been hurt to the point of crying, that it was okay to cry and let it out.
Now, I accept that I’ve hurt others, I’ve been hurt, and I’ve seen hurt. I’ve been through so much. But I’ve learned to be proud of the storms I’ve survived. They have taught me that no matter what I may go through, I can–and we all can–make it at the end of the day, if we dig deep and find the courage and strength to be confident and proud of the person we are–and will become.