When a man tells me he feels weak when he cries, I understand. It makes sense based on the social norms and expectations out there, often perpetuated by us as men.
There are times I have cried and have felt weak. But in those same moments (sometimes after) I felt relief and surprisingly in touch with a younger part of me that often feels lost or distant. It is that same part I see in my kids. And I acknowledge I am still far from confident about emoting in public.
For me the fear of judgement from others has been part of what has made me hesitant at times to share my story. It is that same fear that tells me not to let others see me in my feelings. However, I found through sharing my story with trusted people, I understand myself better and I feel more accepted. Also my difficult experiences are often normalized in hearing others’ stories who have gone through something similar.
I have noticed how infrequently many fathers and sons appear to share their stories and feelings with each other. Often in the therapy room, they are able to break down these long standing walls and reach out to each other. Sometimes fathers refuse to talk about anything outside of work and chores. I found this more likely to be true the older a man is. This speaks to the ongoing change in prevailing culture as you look back through the generations. It is such a miss when a man does not ask his kids about what they feel, about what they think, about who they are. Then there is the apology I get sometimes, from a man tearing up or trying to choke back tears. My response is don’t cry if you don’t want to. But that might be part of the problem. I say if you are a human go ahead and emote if you need to. As long as you are not hurting anyone go ahead and let it out. Your story, your tears, anger fear, grief etc. And really more than if a tear rolls down your cheek, it is your attitude with yourself. Can you allow, whatever feeling is there to be there, without pushing it down? We become changed for the better when we can practice being with ourselves and others in emotional expression and telling our stories.
Article by Elijah Bedrosian, MC, LPC