This is continuation of another article, so if you haven’t read that yet, it will set the tone for what we are talking about.
I, myself, don’t get emotional. I mean, I have. Very much when I was younger, but most of the time it was the cry of getting spanked, or getting punched in the face, or the one time I had hated this football coach so much, that at the last game of the season, my anger came out and I cried the whole time I yelled at him. I have gotten angry, and sad, and happy. And I have seen women in my life do the same, but they are capable of so much more.
I didn’t cry when my father got deployed and I wasn’t going to see him again for 15 months. I didn’t cry when my Grandfather died, and he was the closest family member that I ever bonded with. I watched others cry, like my father, but even he was holding back.
I’d like to look at this in a positive light, and think that I’m smart enough to remove emotion out of the picture. At worst though, I just can’t care enough to emote because I’m emotionally dead. Where did this come from? Why do I do this? Was this just because of subtle moments throughout my upbringing, or a culture that denies men emotional expression.
One of friends remembers the day he stopped crying; the day he divided his emotions into excitement and anger.
When he was much younger, he would get in trouble at school. His father would hear about it and after his father picked him up from school he would just lay into him. His father would get in his face and yell. As most small children would, my friend began to cry. This only made his father angrier and he would scream, “Why are you crying! Why are you crying, you pussy! I’ll give you something to cry about!”
That’s when my friend shut down. He stopped crying. He divided himself into the only emotions that were acceptable: Excitement and Anger. He hasn’t cried since.
I’ve heard that phrase as well: “Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry about.”
As men, the image presented us is stoic. The male protagonist is the one who DOES things; the person who only talks to be funny or make a final decision to indecisiveness; and the only two emotions available to him are Anger and Excitement. Tell me that doesn’t describe most male leads in a movies nowadays.
In marriage, the man is the rock in the relationship. He is the place tears fall upon, but tears do not come from him. He is solid and acts to fix whatever problems come his way. My masculinity extends as far as I can cut off feeling. If you cry, you’re a girl. As if that was an insult.
So I’m guess that my friend and I, are just emotionally stunted, and never had a chance to grow. He can place his down to the moment, whereas mine comes from a lifetime.
Why can’t I cry? I’ve had moments where everything in my soul wanted to, and yet I couldn’t. I once locked myself in an art room in order to accomplish overdue schoolwork for a Biblical Course on Ecclesiastes. I ended up doing not just the overdue assignments, but all of the courses workload. In the middle of this, I wanted to cry. Not because the work was too much, but because of how much I was pouring myself into the study of a book that speaks on the meaninglessness of life. I lay on the floor and rubbed my eyes, trying to force tears out. I asked God to allow me this once, just this once, to cry, but no blessing flowed. That only added to my desire to weep.
I am expected to be masculine, but I’m not expected to emote. Why not? If you look at the Bible, men cry, weep, dance, and beat their chests, why I was I told that I should keep it bottled up? Jesus’ power came from his weakness. He was weak. There, I said it. He was weak and vulnerable. He cried at Lazarus’ death, and he angrily flipped tables in the Temple. He was beaten and was killed. He begged God to take it all away. Jesus’ strength was the fact that he was a fragile human being. Am I not allowed to be that man? Am I not allowed to be the weak one?
I feel like letting my emotions loose is a burden on those around me. But they do need to come out somehow, so I’m stuck with two: excitement and anger. I want more. I want to be able to cry on my wife’s shoulder. I want to properly express that I feel those emotions as well. I don’t want to be shamed for emoting.
To often emotions are considered effeminate, stereotypically relegated to the women and the gays, but why? If masculinity is all about strength, then why am I not emotionally strong? Why can’t I be vulnerable? Why am I so weak that I can’t grieve? Am I afraid to?