Question #159: What is so wrong with crying?
May 22, 2013
This is a question I have battled to answer my entire life.
Well, battled may be too strong a word – but it has certainly plagued me throughout my youth and was not until about six years ago that I started to understand my personal love/hate relationship with this mode of expression – mainly due to the stigma that’s attached to it, by the ever-watchful eyes of society.
It fills me with indignation.
As I child, I grew up being a ‘wog’ in a predominantly Anglo location. On many occasions I was bullied because, even though when you looked at me you didn’t see an ethnic girl, I spoke Spanish with my grandmother when she picked me up from my primary school. This, in turn, meant I was fair game to all those who hated themselves and needed to feel better by picking on someone – me.
Although I know NOW, as an adult, why bullies are bullies, what this did to me as a child was to start me on the path of being very, very insecure – desperate for acceptance and belonging. It also awakened the ‘cry-baby’ in me.
This was compounded at home whenever my parents, especially my father, expressed anger towards me when I was a teenager. Although it was probably no different to any other parent/child relationship, whenever I heard that particular unsatisfied tone, I would instantly feel the knot shoot up into my throat, as I desperately tried to hold back the tears – knowing that their arrival would open a new kettle of fish.
Society tells us it’s a sign of weakness.
I wonder whether it’s because men are were seen as ‘strong’ and the ‘providers’ – Me Tarzan; You Jane – and men DON’T cry. Well, if being a male is the benchmark of existence and crying is seen as a negative weakness, then what is the males’ counter-balance? How do they let off their feelings of disappointment, frustration and, dare I say, vulnerability?
It certainly appears to be a (too) common, ‘manly’ way to express emotion.
Question #160: So if we’re not supposed to cry – what then?
Laughter is considered an important and essential part of our emotional well-being and if balance is to be achieved, surely crying must play an equally paramount role. It’s greatly concerning that this is marred by the ridiculous notion that crying is a no-no and that we all need to ‘man up’.
Man up? No thanks.
Men should cry more.
Crying can represent a myriad of positive things – compassion, empathy, sympathy, joy – why must these traits be snuffed out? And before people start arguing that they’re not, please understand that females (the predominant criers, due to the conditioning that says it’s a part of our DNA – bollocks!) are always being told to be the ‘compassionate and sensitive ones’ – UNTIL WE ARE – then it’s criticism all the way.
Tori Amos said the following:
My epiphany (six years ago) happened when I experienced some difficulties with work, coupled with some post-natal depression. I was crying a lot.
My doctor referred me to a psychologist, whom I only saw three times. In that last session, I had decided that I was only rehashing the negative feelings about my issues and that I simply wanted to take some action. The only problem was that as strong as I am on the inside – and I am – I always ended up having tears in my eyes when discussing frustrating issues with people and was crippled by the thought of being perceived as weak, even though I knew I wasn’t.
She said to me, “Maybe deep down, you think they’re right.”
A-HA moment. Right there.
Due to the decades of entrenched perceptions about what crying entails, I ended up in a Catch-22 state of affairs – believing the hype about what it communicated about me to those I was talking to…which ended up the crux of why I cried in those situations.
Well, now I’m happy to say that I’m still a crier (just not like before) and that it’s always done wonders for my skin! I let it out when I need to, purge myself of the toxins and am not ashamed of it.
Not one bit
I cry for injustice, for hurting fellow human beings, for our dying planet, for loved ones and I also cry tears of joy.
Better than punching a wall, I say.
Deep breath…and let it aaalllll out. You too, boys.