I remember the first time I saw a man cry. It was inside a truck. It was me, my wife at the time, and her dad. He was driving us to the airport. We visited him in Oregon. Wait, technically I saw my dad cry many times years before this. But my dad’s tears came from alcohol and lack of emotional intelligence. That’s not showing yourself. That’s hiding and drowning, and being irresponsible.
My ex-wife’s dad cried after hearing his daughter tell a heartfelt story about how difficult high school was. He had no idea she was bullied. He thought she had a great high school experience. I remember seeing the tears stream down his face, the hurt and empathy in his eyes. But more importantly, I saw how that made her feel. Because he wasn’t always like that. He raised her with an iron fist and kept his emotions buried. It wasn’t until he went through his own divorce that he started to really show himself and express his feelings.
I remember watching this like a scene out of a father daughter movie and thinking, wow he’s not afraid to show himself, not only to his daughter, but also to me. Just hours before, me and him were lifting weights and talking about motorcycles. We were broing down and being “men”. And now he’s sobbing because he feels his daughter’s pain. Then he apologized for not being present when she was going though high school. He apologized for not being there for her. Be apologized for being an absent father. Then she started crying. Then I started crying. We were all crying inside this truck as we were headed to the airport. And in that moment, my definition of what a real man looks like changed.
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