Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I DON’T think so…

The other day I saw a talk show hostess insisting that three young men MUST cry in order to cure their emotional distress about a father that was a thief, and a liar. To cure the legend of anger against a father that had committed unforgivable acts that tore their world apart. I found myself wanting to look away from the men's faces when the hostess brought up the crying thing. I felt such a conversation was overly intrusive, particularly in front of an audience. The soul is too intimate a place for an outsider to command vicious stripping and hacking until one feels compelled to cry when every soul and muscle and fiber in their being is fighting against it.

I say this because crying is not a Shakespearean Act, it is a natural spontaneous emotion. And because it has a strong emotional connection like smiling, laughing, dancing, and singing, we cannot do it justice if it is not a natural reaction to something that wells up in the soul. So, that being the case, why would anyone insist that men must cry?

I don’t know if you’ve ever said to your children that they should cry. All I remember saying is “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. There’s no need.” But I also remember someone who insisted I must cry. When my homework was incomplete I remember being berated by an evil cruel Science teacher who after attacking me in a blistering verbal manner, insisted that I stand at the front of the class and cry so that all could see me cry. He forced me to remove my hands from my face so that no one’s view would be impeded as I wept. I couldn’t have been more disturbed if a crowd had gathered round me while I was forced to relieve myself in a bathroom with transparent walls.

I don’t think my Dad ever cried cause I never saw him do it. I’m glad there was never the opportunity for someone to tell him that because he didn’t cry that he was somehow deficient in his soul. He was a very kind man and I am quite certain that an accusation of deficiency of soul would have been far more distressing to him than the battle he had against a deficiency of food. He would have been heartbroken. That kind of deficiency would have been a burden much heavier to bear than the deficiencies of our physical existence.

And Hub is the same kind of man. I’ve never seen him shed tears either (but I did hear an uncommon sniffling sound as he turned his face to the wall the day his doggie died). But outright weeping? Not. He is too practical for that. Life is about finding practical solutions to problems, not sitting around crying.

The whole thing is somewhat similar to the problem I have with bladder shyness. I cannot go to a medical office and provide a urine sample. Too bladder-shy to piss a drop. But that does not mean I can’t piss like a race horse when I am in my own private comfort zone. And I think many men are the same when it comes to weeping. They cannot cry in public, but when emotions overwhelm them, they can match the emotional mush of anyone else. But they can only do it with head turned to the wall, in the privacy of their own pillow where they can keep the intimate value of it intact. Because, truth is, that for them, showing outward weakness creates an emotional monster that is harder for them to wrestle than the tribulations of daily life.

P.S. Of course, then we come to those that keep insisting tears are not a sign of weakness. Give it a break. If that were the case newsmen could weep rivers while reporting the world’s latest disasters and we could all cry at the workplace especially on Mondays.


Blogger the old bag said...

Must cry is much like must punch a pillow to get anger out -- sometimes, instead of being cleansing, acts like this perpetuate the very emotion one is trying to evacuate. I think there are healthier ways to deal with tough emotions.

And, agreed, these are best dealt with in a level-headed manner when facing others...emoting is best done in the safety of home/pillow/trusted other.

(PS I'm horrified that a teacher would do such a thing...an embarrassment to the profession)

6:37 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Thank you, the old bag for your comments. Your description of what crying is about in your opening sentence is very apt. The other part of your comment is also appeciated. I still need sympathy this many years later for the cruelty of that former teacher.

7:37 AM  

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