As Nigerian men, sharing or talking about how we feel is not something we’re all used to. For some, sharing comes easy. But for others, the boundaries are so thick that no one can come in. After this viral video dropped, we decided to ask some married Nigerian men what they thought about the video and who they talk to when the going gets tough — tif they talk at all.
I talk to my mum a lot. Honestly, I think it’s lowkey unhealthy how close we are because if anything happens in my life — sexually, mentally, physically or otherwise, my mum is on speed dial like, “You won’t believe what just happened.” I’m glad she created that space for me to open up and it’s something that I don’t take for granted. It started when I was a child, and now it’s almost like a reflex move. I got married last year and while I’m close to my wife, my mum is still the first person I turn to when life gives me gbas-gbos. She has spoken to me about talking to my wife first and I’m trying my best, but I guess old habits are just hard to shake off.
I have a rule: If I can’t solve it, there’s no need involving anyone else. It may sound harsh, but I grew up as an only child and didn’t get to talk to a lot of people. It helped me be introspective in a way I fully understand how my mind works. When I feel a certain way, I analyse the situation and try to trace the cause. A lot of girls I dated back then have found it weird but my wife gets it and gives me space when I need it. She also knows I’m there to help with her problems when she needs someone to talk to. I’m just not wired the same way. It’s not effective 100% of the time, but nothing ever is.
I watched that video and found it weird. Yes, men find it hard to show their emotions, but some of these guys sounded proud of the fact that they had no one to call. Why? It’s a shitty thing and not some cool accomplishment. I don’t think I’m better, but I’ve developed a sort of openness with the people in my life that I have multiple people to talk to when things get rough. I have my wife, male and female friends, co-workers, family members and even exes I can call depending on what’s going on. Most guys hide behind the assumption that they have no one to talk to, but really, have you even tried talking to anyone before?
I have the best female friends a guy could ever ask for. Being an effeminate queer man, I’ve always gravitated towards women and I’m not ashamed of it. Over the years, they’ve shown up for me more times than I can count. They were the first set of people I came out to, even though you would have to be blind not to have known. They supported and stood by me when I was kitoed and had to escape to the UK. Even though I’m married now, my husband knows that when I’m struggling, my girls are number one on my call list. He knows there’s history and he understands. I also know it’s quite uncommon and straight women can also be dangerous when it comes to weaponising queer people’s queerness against them, but for now, I’m content with my tribe.
I’ve always been quiet and reserved so communication has never been my strong suit. I started therapy about two years ago before I got married and I think it has helped me open up more to my wife. While I tend to tell her things I’ve already spoken to my therapist about, I think I’m on the right track. But I can’t deny the fact that I feel more comfortable with a therapist. There’s something easier talking to someone who doesn’t know you, once a week. With my wife, I see her every day when I wake up and before I go to sleep. If I tell her some of the things I tell my therapist, I’m scared she’ll never look at me the same way again.
This is why I have my guys. We try to go out at least once a week and even though we tend to end our nights in the club, the first few hours after we link up post-work, is focused on just catching up. If anyone has a problem, we put our heads together and look for a solution or simply check for how we can make them feel better. As men, we’ve created this prison for ourselves and it’s unnecessary — you think people are watching you for signs of weakness but it’s all in your head. I saw it happen with my dad and how he just shut out everyone. And now, no one knows how to talk to him. I don’t want to repeat that. Even if I can’t talk to my wife, at least she knows I’m not bottling everything in.