Before Learning to Cry
Do you ever cry? I have been asked this question at different points in my life and the answer was always no. It wasn’t a defensive answer. I would take a moment of reflection and realize that I never cried, and thoughtfully provided an answer.
I did wonder if it was strange that I never cried, but part of me also liked the question. After all, how could I not enjoy any question where the answer would strengthen a feeling of masculinity. Perhaps there was an iota of misplaced pride that the answer would further validate that I was indeed, in fact, a man. Sure, I had a penis to verify this, but I also loved classical music, sung in a choir, and had a reputation for being sensitive; all three distinctly unmanly. During the initial feeling out period of the dating process, I would tell a woman that I sung in a choir and inevitably be met with a softening face and perhaps a gentle “ahhh.” Internally, I would reply, “Oh yeah? But I don’t cry, so there!”
Masculinity exists on a sliding scale. It’s not definite, it constantly fluctuates from moment to moment. If one of those moments afforded me to tip the scales toward masculinity, establishing my non-crying credentials would definitely have done the trick. Keep in mind, I was never a macho man and never felt the need to amplify those bona fides. However, everyone is different; a comfortable sense of self established by varying degrees of masculine validation.
Personally, I have never owned a truck with testicles or cared about automobiles. I have never owned a gun or been duck hunting. However, I do love sports. But then again, I do enjoy Mozart and being a Tenor 2. So, there is a lesson in all of this; if we are ever on a date and my choral singing comes up organically, be sure to unnaturally, immediately, and abruptly ask if I ever cry, so my internal masculinity ledger remains securely balanced.
So far in this post, I have been very careful to use the past tense while referring to my abstinence from crying because around 8 years ago when I was 34 years old, I lost my crying virginity. The first time was amazing, and I have been an avid proponent and practitioner of crying ever since.
Losing my Crying Virginity
My first time was with my therapist. During our first meeting, he asked me if I was more of a thinker or a feeler. The question puzzled me, so I thought long and hard about it. ? After a few moments of quiet contemplation, I responded that I thought I was more of a thinker. He suggested that I try to become more familiar with my emotions and how they manifested in my body; to let them happen and experience them, as oppose to fighting them off with intellectual denials. A few moments later, I was crying uncontrollably; my entire body convulsing as I released a lifetime of pent up energy from it. The emotional release was transformative, and I spent the better part of the next year crying. At least, so it seemed.
No doubt that year was tough, but I learned the healing power of crying, acknowledging emotions, and releasing feelings from the body. In the moment, life challenges can seem irretractable with no end, but in retrospect, I often feel something that resembles gratitude for the internal growth they necessitate. In this instance, I’m particularly thankful for learning to become the unabashed crier that I am.