By Richard Bleil
For the past few weeks, I’ve felt an intense need to cry.
We cry for so many reasons. We cry when we’re happy, we cry when we’re relieved from great stress, we cry at sad movies, we cry at happy movies, we cry when that song comes on the radio.
We cry when our heart is broken.
As a society, though, we (especially men) are taught that crying is wrong. It’s just not manly. It’s weak, pathetic, embarrassing…effeminate. Real men don’t cry.
Well, I hate to say it; men have feelings, just as women do, and we cry, and maybe it’s not manly…but it’s human. And the truth is, it takes great courage to cry. Do you think as I write this blog admitting that I am a typical frail human that periodically needs to cry I don’t need courage? Do you honestly believe that I’m not sitting here, right now, hearing my father’s voice in my head telling me that if I want to cry, he’ll give me something to cry about?
Do you believe that this inherent threat of child abuse hasn’t negatively affected me?
The problem with men like me is that we tend to carry around pent-up emotions. We give ourselves ulcers and strokes and, in my case, heart attacks by being strong and never letting it be known that we have actual feelings. We work so hard to keep the water out of our lives that by the time our ships do spring a leak, well, it’s a big one.
It took me a very long time, and a lot of therapy, to realize the benefits of a good floodgate open curled up like a baby weep. Okay, I can’t do that in the presence of others; there are few that have seen me even cry more than a tear or two, but I do. And when I do, I cannot begin to express how calm and relieved I feel. It’s like a spring that has been wound too tightly holding my heart and soul suddenly letting loose. All of that tension, just gone.
For a bit.
My mind still resists telling me that I need to cry, but fortunately, my body does a pretty poor job of keeping the secret. For the past few weeks, I’ve been nearly (but not quite) brought to tears by fairly small things. If I hear “More Than a Feeling” by Boston, I am nearly brought to tears with the lyrics “and she slipped away”. I went to see the move Yesterday, well, yesterday (great movie, by the way), and almost, but not quite, cried when the theme song played. I was watching a movie just a few minutes ago with Harrison Ford (I can’t remember the name, but the premise is that he was a reporter forced to do a morning show) and almost cried when he reached out to the executive producer.
Almost is kind of big for me. That I can nearly (but not quite) be brought to tears so easily is a sign that I have some kind of emotional blockage, and really need a good cry to let it go. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been struggling with extreme depression as well, which is another sign that I need to release some kind of tension.
Lots of tension if I’m being completely honest.
I have a secret. There is one move in particular, Cyrano de Bergerac with Gerard DePardu (and, yes, you have to read the movie unless you speak French), that always makes me cry. Like, break down, hysterical, no holds barred break down and cry like a child whose Transformer was just broken by my older bully sister and my mother just called me a childish tattle tale for telling on her cry.
Not that that ever didn’t really happen.
Okay, it wasn’t a Transformer.
As a society, we need to do better. We must stop telling boys that they need to hold it in, and we need to stop telling girls that they need to let it out. Both options are just wrong. There are times that we need to be strong. I have a friend fighting cancer, and every time she talks with me about it, frankly, I want to bawl, but it wouldn’t help her if I did. I may not want to be stone-cold in a situation like that, but I also don’t want to show her my fears. And there are times that being too strong gets you into trouble. When strength begins to affect health, let’s be honest, it’s too much. There is nothing wrong with emotions.
Instead of being men and women, let’s be human. What’s wrong with having feelings and dealing with them in a healthy way? How cool would it be if we talked more, let people know how we feel honestly, and lose the emotional violent outbursts that occur when we hold it in? It’s time. Folks, it’s the twenty-first century, and we all have the same make-up in our psyche. It’s time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch a movie.