It’s time for another entry in my Grateful Heart Monday series, a series which continues to focus on only one thing, that being an important piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for no longer being afraid to cry in front of others.
A long time ago, I was taught that if you were going to be a “real man” in this world, you should never cry in front of others. That grown men should not openly display this type of emotion in the world. My mother was the first to tell me this and she often did her best to help me grow into those big boy pants, to make me tough, and never show any vulnerability like that. I did pretty well with it for many years, even taking Tae Kwon Do and becoming a brown belt to be strong. Later, I learned that alcohol and drugs were also great ways to keep those vulnerable emotions suppressed. On the really heaving drinking and drugging days though, when I went too far with the substances I was consuming, my emotions got the best of me and I’d often end up in a torrent of tears about all the insecurities of my life. I’d always blame the alcohol and drugs of course the next day and toughen right back up, vowing to not allow myself to ever do that again. I did of course time and time again, but only when I was under the influence.
When I finally got sober from alcohol and drugs, and had nothing to suppress those emotions anymore, I went to the next best thing, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, mostly because I started crying all the time and didn’t want anyone to see that. I honestly believed from what I was taught that it made me weak and I wanted to remain strong, So, I tried my best even sober, to never openly shed my tears.
I took that to the extreme, like I have most things in my life, and rarely did I show my tears, even when my father took his life or when my mother took her tragic drunken fall down the stairs. I began to use other addictions to numb myself from those deep emotions and pain and paid the price for that, as I eventually learned that putting a stopper in those feelings and holding all those painful emotions down, only led to me becoming an angry and rage-filled individual, someone who walked around in the world with a major chip on his shoulder.
The only individuals I ever really let see the real side of me for much of my life were those I fell in love with and a few therapists I saw. To the rest of the world though, I hid my true self, someone who deep down was a hurt little boy who always felt sad and alone. When I finally came to terms with that and realized how much damage it was causing my mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical health, I began working on opening those flood gates. To do so meant walking away from a number of other addictions that only suppressed those emotions.
The past eight years or so, I’ve done pretty well with this and have really worked hard to show my vulnerability. I still have my good days with it and some bad days. On the good days, like just tonight for example, when I was hanging out with a good friend of mine, I let the tears fall from my face and it was rather healing and connecting with my friend. On those bad days, when I don’t want to take that wall down around my heart, I tend to yell and cause arguments, trying to create separation with those I love, all because of the fear of getting hurt, something I know all too well throughout much of my life with abandonment and loneliness.
But, the reality is I know it’s ok to cry now and how healthy it is as well, not just alone on my knees on the side of my bed, but everywhere. While I do cry more than not these days about the state of my life with my health, especially in the morning when I awake and am alone with all my pain and all that angst it causes me, I am thankful I can express it more openly now too. I do so with plenty of others in my life, to the groups I speak to, to my close friends and even those who aren’t friends at all. I am authentic now in my life in my emotions more than not, and for that I am so very grateful. Because at the core, showing my tears, allowing my tears, for the world to see, while my mother long ago would have said grown men don’t do that type of thing and that it makes one weak, I see otherwise. Showing my tears actually make me strong, strong in myself for being true to me, and strong in showing to other men that there really is a strength that comes from expressing feelings like that with another.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson