“Stop being so soft”
These are some of things I heard in my childhood, thinking that boys (and inevitably, men) should not cry. Thinking that crying, or even showing any emotion that isn’t associated with manliness was weak, inferior or just frankly weird.
My emotional range over the years has generally consisted of two speeds (I know, I sound like an old school motor car with poor fuel economy) Happy… and angry.
When I was happy, I was invariably the type of person that could be the life of the party. Class clown with the sideline comments that would generally make light of almost any situation and obtain laughs for all and sundry. My other speed though, was… well, in all honesty, still is, rooted deeply in anger. This, coupled with a recent discovery of having depression and anxiety, makes for some interesting, yet scary and upsetting moments of my life.
My lack of emotional range has made it difficult for me to function in some areas.
While most people see me as a happygolucky sort of person that enjoys everything life has to offer (andgenerally I am), there are times where I would like to just crawl under a rock and hide from everything… and nothing… at the same time. These are the moments where I now know where I should accept tears. But due to childhood programming and societal expectations, I lock my tears in… and instead deal with my emotions as I only know how.
I get frustrated. I get annoyed. I get pissed off. I getupset.
These though, all manifest as anger. Sometimes, I don’t know what it is about. Sometimes I just want to bite someone’s head off because then I have something to deal with (instead of being sad and wanting to cry for what I can see as no reason). I have stormed off in huffs (admittedly not too thought out when having to walk 20km after an argument that wasn’t needed), I have broken things that I wish I hadn’t, I have said things that I have regretted, I have pushed people too far and I have removed people from my life (some for the better, to be honest). At the heart of it all though, is a lack of understanding where it comes to emotions… and how to deal with them.
I am currently undergoing my health improvement I am losing weight, I am getting fitter and I am getting stronger. After one of my first workouts though (where I had pushed myself pretty hard and was absolutely shattered afterward), while sitting at the table trying to shovel some protein into my depressed gob, I burst into tears.
Tarn: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “sob… I don’t know… sniff” tears dripping down my face as I chew on my chicken
Tarn: “you have had a pretty hard day and had quite a hard workout, your body obviously needs to release, just let it release and you’ll be fine”
Me: “sniff… but I don’t know why I’m crying… sob”
Tarn: “that’s ok just roll with it”
True to her word, I cried for a solid 5 minutes while trying to eat my dinner (I probably looked like a depressed spinster, crying over my lost years) and 20 minutes later, the sadness was forgotten and I was back to being and goof.
So I now will try to accept my tears.
Gone are the days when I’m watching something on television and I blame the dusty fan or onions being cooked in the kitchen. I’m going to say to my wife, son and daughter “I’m sad because of that and it has made me cry.”
Article written by Phillip Neho, founder of Dad Improvement
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