At some point and time in life I always dreamed of becoming a hero. It wasn’t when I got older when I knew what heroes were….or what society perceived them to be. Police officers (debatable compared to what’s happening now in America), firefighters (especially after the events of September 11th – when I was only 13 years old), doctors, nurses, etc.
I didn’t really sit-down and think about the military being heroes, although there was a lot going on in the early 00’s. When I visited the remnants war museum in Ho Chi Minh City, my opinion of the military quickly changed. After doing real research on ‘little boy’ and ‘fat man,’ I’m appalled by my findings to this day and even more amazed that people clap and say “thank you for protecting us.” This could be a long story in it’s own, and a lot of people may have friends in the military (no disrespect intended), but my friends have been through divorces after being abused by them, they’re shooting up churches, open-firing on their own Air Force bases and a lot of them that come back from war can no longer adapt to life — suffering from PTSD.
So, who was my hero? My mother was an iconic figure, but who was it that steered me in the right direction? He came by the name of Al Travis – a very well disciplined man with a massive heart that came into my life in the most pivotal moments. There wasn’t any flaunting of money, egoism like my mother’s last boyfriend (the strong “alpha”), or demanding – he was simply a man trying to be a father figure to a group of children, one especially in desperate need of one (my brother).
Al was like a warrior. He was one that didn’t believe the media and the opinions of others. He had the best communication skills I’ve ever seen of any other human being to this date, and could have a group of people erupt into laughter in seconds just by making a presence. He never hid behind a mask….he was exactly who he’s always been — a charismatic and loving individual.
“Sometimes it’s not just the women in your life or your family whom you lock out when you hide behind this mask of strength and unflappability. Sometimes it is the entire world you lock out, and what you are keeping from them is your true, authentic self. The real you.”
Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.
When I was able to pour out and tell him my feelings, that was the first time in my life that I had someone “hear” me. The exposure to a “father” figure I never had. If I wasn’t able to do this, I, too, would’ve been hiding behind a Stoic Mask. Taking off this mask shows true vulnerability, but when you show the world what’s behind it….you show them exactly who you are. I love Les Brown’s quote of Mr. Washington, “son, when you open your mouth, I want you to tell the world who you are.” Raw. He was born in an abandoned building; my father just so happened to drop my siblings and I off at the front door of a home. Am I ashamed of it? Absolutely not.
There are people in the world who are coming out as “gay,” too. The most notable figure that came out as gay was Michael Sam — potential NFL DE. The unbelievable amount of hateful rhetoric following his NFL appearance was unbelievable. One commenter said, “he kissed his boyfriend on national TV. Unreal.” This is the hate that people are terrified of receiving from society. Hell, writing about this, even about the military, could possibly have potential backlash….but you see — I busted the brakes, windows, and torn off the foundation of the door already. The world knows who I am. Do you know who you are?