The peroxide that soaked into my wounds wasn’t the only thing that made me cry when I was growing up. I cried when shampoo got into my eyes. I cried at the dinner table when it was meatloaf night again. (Sorry, Mom.) I cried at the grocery store when my parents caught me trying to sneak a Snickers bar onto the checkout counter. I cried when I wasn’t invited to birthday parties. And then—I stopped crying.
Crying was something that I simply lost the ability to do. Crying was if it a were a bad habit I grew out of like forgetting to shut the front door or not keeping my elbow in when shooting a jump shot. It’s something that the people around me didn’t do anymore either. It wasn’t something the boys did and certainly not the men. Crying was something I figured you lost the ability to do when you got older.
“I’ll be able to have a deeper voice, drive a truck, have hairy arms and legs, and I won’t be able to cry. Okay, got it.”
As men, we are terrified of being seen as feminine in any sort of manner. We think it’ll make us appear weak and not able to defend our home if stuff happens to go down. Personally, I don’t feel that there is something wrong with wanting to appear masculine. It’s what makes us men, just ask Dale in the film Step Brothers.
“We’re men, okay? ...we go on riverboat gambling trips, and make our own jerky. That’s what we do.” (Okay, so I may have left a few parts of that quote out, but you get the point.)
There comes a certain point when trying to appear masculine hinders us. Sometimes we just need to let it out. For example, if you didn’t cry after reading Where the Red Fern Grows, you have no soul. (That might be a slight exaggeration...maybe.) The tears we shed will come at the end of periods in our life: the end of our high school football careers, graduations, family members and friends passing away, when the family dog dies, Band of Brothers, and relationships. Tears will come at new beginnings as well: our wedding day, our children being born, our first house being purchased, and first steps being taken. Don’t forget that there’s room for tears in the middle.
Crying is a part of life. Things happen to us and around us that freakin’ tear us apart. It’s okay to let our emotions show as men. Read that again. It’s okay for us to let our emotions show as men. It doesn’t mean you’re not a great hunter or fishermen. It doesn’t mean that you can’t bench as much anymore. It doesn’t mean you can’t show your face down at the bar anymore. It doesn’t mean you have to turn in your man card. It doesn’t mean that you’re not still a man. It means you’re human.
We need to stop acting like robots when bad things happen in our lives. Let it out. Otherwise we bottle this stuff up inside for years and let it eat away at our core. We become booze hounds and drink our emotions away instead of talking about whatever it is that we are going through. It’s no wonder why depression is so high among men in the United States today. We are terrified of talking to people about our problems because we are afraid of judgement or that we appear weak. There are things in this life that are going to happen to us that are going to shake our foundation. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that we have a few male friends that we can count on to help us make repairs when necessary?
I used to make fun of my mom for crying during movies and TV shows. She cried at the littlest things. I’ve come to realize now that she cried because she felt so much. She empathizes so much that she weeps for these characters that she’s known for less than an hour. I’ve stopped laughing at her and have started crying with her instead.