I know, it isn’t manly to cry and it certainly isn’t manly to admit that you cry. But, you know what, I don’t care. I do have reasons to cry and I don’t care how you respond because crying does help me feel better.
OK, I admit it, I’ve been crying a lot recently, but I have good reason.
I have bee thinking about my life. I often think about the futility of how it progresses and how sometimes it doesn’t. There are so many things that just do not make any sense to me.
I remember when I was a young child and went to the movies to see “Old Yeller.” This was a story about a pioneer farming family who lived out on the American range. The only thing I really remember about the story was the dramatic ending. The family was being attacked by a pack of wolves and the family dog, Old Yeller, sprung to their rescue and fought off the wolf pack.
However, it was not without a significant cost to “Yeller.” The wolves had bitten him and the family was forced to put their loyal defender into confinement. Of course, Yeller developed rabies and had to be put down. I will never forget the trauma when the young boy (I guess I could not help but identify with him) decided to be the “man of the family” as dad seemed not to be present and do the deed. With tears rolling down both his and my eyes the boy aimed his rifle at Yeller and killed him.
I will never forget the great sadness and anger that enveloped my body. Here, this dog saved them to only have them return the favor by shooting him. The injustice of it all, these ungrateful people and this ungrateful and unfair world we lived in just overwhelmed me.
I was with my older brother and knew that I could not allow him to see me cry, so I choked back the torrent of tears that I felt inside and pretended not to care. I was wounded, no I was devastated, but I had to be a man. So I walked out of that theater, feeling terror and great sadness, as a stoic man.
I know that I caused great damage to myself that day. I suppressed my feelings; I denied them as I choked back my tears. And as with many of us it developed a pattern of how we deal with our sadness.
I had looked death in the face and didn’t cry when Yeller died. I also looked death in the face, held back tears when my mother (died from lung cancer), my sister-in-law (died from breast cancer), father-in-law (died from colon cancer) and best friend Dan (died from renal cancer) all within a very short period of time. Then, while actively mourning my father-in-laws death my cat passed away.
I was done and I cried like a baby. I cried for everyone and I cried for myself. I even cried for Old Yeller.
My crying did not bring anyone back, but I remembered all of them. My crying didn’t cure any of my cancers, but it did allow me to understand how I actually felt. My crying honored all the people I had lost and it honored my lost health. It honored my being and it honored my future.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW