Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I don’t recall many outlets for anyone, let alone men, to share their vulnerability. As a kid, if I got hurt, I was told, “just rub some dirt on it”. Crying was labeled as “bad”. For decades, all I knew was to hide my emotions. “Men don’t cry” was celebrated. Kids would laugh or pick on you if you showed an ounce of emotion. So what did I do? I followed. I mean, would you want to be the only one crying? I answered no. Ok, I think I’m done venting…..
So for decades, I was building my own wall of resistance to crying. Fueled by societal norms of labeling crying or showing your emotions as bad. It was a sign of weakness. Notice how I’m saying, “Was”.
So here’s a PSA for everyone out there…..
I Cry. Not often, but when I do, I’m grateful.
OK, back to my childhood for a moment. My childhood was filled with little crying. My mom might argue, and yes she is correct in that I did have my fair share of temper tantrums as a toddler. But I shit you not…. prior to this past year, the last time I remember crying was when my best friend moved away maybe 20 years so. Are you serious? There must be something wrong with me! OK, I’m not counting all the alcohol induced crying sessions. I’m talking real crying. My walls of resistance were built sky high. Consider me Cameron Diaz in the movie, The Holiday.
So when my wife surprised me with the book, Why A Girl Needs A Dad, earlier this year, I was both ecstatic and surprised when I couldn’t make it through one word without balling my eyes out. Honestly, it felt damn good. Gosh it felt good. If I could bottle up those feelings in a jar and sell them, I would. I would label it, “tracks of my tears”, after one of my favorite songs.
And the best things is, I’m not embarrassed to share any of this with you. Hello mindfulness practice and my new headspace 🙂
OK back to the book. Y’all, I…cried…my….damn….eyes….out. Not even one word in and boom! Tear. Next word, boom! Second tear. So on and so forth. It took my over a half hour to get through that book. And gosh did it feel good to let it all out. But I’d be lying if I didn’t have little voices in my head telling me to stop. The same voices from my childhood who told me to hide my emotions and that crying was bad. I’m sure you’re familiar with these voices too.
So I’ll say this again. I CRY. And it’s damn cool that I do. Heck, it’s so cool that we all cry. The ultimate amount of strength and vulnerability, IMO. Trust me, it’s not easy, and it took me decades to learn how to cry again. But feeling those emotions for the first time in years, I felt alive. I felt real. Authentic. Me.