Society has changed a lot, but it is still difficult for many men to express their emotions and talk about their experiences. On the initiative of the late Guy Corneau, the organization Hommes Québec offers discussion groups for men in all regions of the province to discuss various topics related to masculinity.
Richard always felt he was misunderstood by his family. “I was the second of the siblings, the one who arrived too quickly, not wanted, he says. I first turned to religion for some help. But over time, I realized that religion is nonsense. On the other hand, I did not want to throw away my spirituality.
Knowing the work of Guy Corneau, he wanted to join a group of Hommes Québec. “I saw the possibility of changing my way of reacting through that. I was a terribly violent man younger, as much towards others as against myself. I got angry very quickly and I hit hard.
Right from the start, Richard realized that he had a lot to learn from others, especially from contact with the most experienced. “They didn’t accept my way of expressing myself at all. I spoke in a bookish way, I was knowledge in itself. But I was not going through my emotions at all.” In groups, the rule is to talk to the I, to talk about yourself, and to find your own feelings.
A former teacher, Richard had to think about his way of talking to the other men in his group. “I realized that just talking about yourself, without judgment, was beneficial. Listening to others is also terribly effective.”
All the topics discussed in the groups are interesting, in the sense that they will provoke speech. But opening up to a small group of men, six in general, is not necessarily easy. “If others welcome your word and are not judgmental, it is terribly rewarding. Honestly, I didn’t believe it myself that it could be so beneficial. When you say what you went through and how you reacted to these events, it does a lot of good because you know that someone listened to you and heard you.
Unlike a session with the psychologist, these groups do not give the impression of being in cure. “The approach is different. We talk like a gang of buddies, but they’re not friends. We are people who listen to others, that changes everything. The discussion is completely different from that which one can have with relatives. There is no affection.”
Richard confides that his personality has changed. “I don’t feel less negative things, but I am able to welcome my feelings. For example, my wife recently hitched the car. I was furious, but looked at the situation with hindsight. I wondered what it would change to get angry. I waited to be calmer, I went around the block, and then I approached the situation more calmly.
In a situation of marital breakdown, job loss, when you suffer from loneliness, isolation, or when you are overwhelmed by a situation, there are many situations in which to call on Hommes Québec.
“Our goal is to free the river that surrounds men’s emotional lives,” explains Vincent Perreault, Vice-President of the Board of Hommes Québec. When a man feels at a dead end, wants to talk about it without being judged, without receiving all sorts of advice, simply to be welcomed in his distress or his suffering, the listening and speech is going to be beneficial.” Hommes Québec is open to everyone, at any time in their life. There is no compulsory duration, but, according to Vincent Perreault, it is in continuity that we are able to learn the lesson that the testimonies of others bring.