STOP CRYING! Boys don’t cry; crying is for girls. The little boy wipes his face and does his best to stop crying. The first time a young boy gets yelled at for doing what is 100% natural for him to do, he starts an all too familiar process of learning how to suppress his hurts. Whether it is a physical pain or an emotional pain, he has to find a way to deal with it without crying because “Boys don’t cry.” From that moment on he loses his God given release mechanism and without being able to release what’s troubling him, it gets bottled up for years to come. How do you think that will look when it erupts?
I understand the intentions behind this whole ordeal but what if it’s doing more harm than good? Yes we want our boys to grow into men that will protect themselves and their family and not ball up in a corner and cry. Yes we want our boys to grow into men that do not cry every time someone says something that may hurt their feelings. No we do not want our boys to grow to become women instead of men but do you really think that just because a young boy who is hurt cries that he will become a woman? That type of thinking is completely false and ignorant to the adverse effects of not crying.
Bare with me as I talk about the eye and tears for a moment. Every human being’s eyes aside from those with Dry Eye produce tears. The eye has a need to be lubricated so it produces tears that are spread to the entire eye every time you blink. Not only do the tears lubricate the eye but they are a defensive mechanism to protect the eye in case anything gets into it. This is why if anything ever flies into your eye you immediately tear up. It’s not because of pain or emotion, tears are how your eye fights.
On the other hand, the eye also produces tears that result from emotions and/or pain. Thing is, these tears are not the same as the tears that lubricate the eyes; these tears are made up with different hormones. When we are stressed or sad our body produces different hormones; too much or too little of a hormone in the body leads to imbalances that can form any psychological disorder such as bi-polar, depression, schizophrenia, volatile anger etc. William Frey, professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Minnesota suggest that when we cry, our bodies are ridding itself of certain hormones to keep the body balanced and ultimately keep us from a psychological disorder.
In addition to releasing, crying also produces hormones that are natural pain killers. These hormones help the body to deal with whatever damage has occurred. Every tear is helping us to feel less pain. The same way scabs form to protect our bodies, tears well up in our eyes to do the same. Crying is a natural process to keep the body healthy. If you don’t scold a boy for growing a scab then you should not scold him for his tears.
Ok, now that we’re done with the medical side of this; how does it all relate to understanding men? After reading about everything that tears do to help our bodies and minds, think about a group of individuals who have not been afforded the opportunity to benefit from them. For majority of their lives they could not release hormones that throw their bodies off balance. For years they had no release for what was ailing them inside. For years they had no access to their natural pain killers. Whether a natural pain or an emotional one, they could not get any help; they had to live with it and if they attempted to use their natural help, they were looked down on. Do you think that after years of this that this group of individual’s mindsets is in their purest form? I seriously doubt it.
Well welcome into the world of a man; a world where you’re not supposed to feel, a world where you have to mask all of your aching, a world where you’re made to feel abnormal for doing something that is normal and through all of this you have to poke your chest out and be this ideal male character. While many men do obtain a shell of this image, they do so at the expense of being hollow on the inside. This problem doesn’t rest so much in the world’s idea of what a man is as much as it does what it believes he isn’t.
It’s fine to view a view a man as someone that is strong and can be a protector. It’s fine to view a man as someone that can provide for his family. It’s fine to view a man as someone who can lead and take charge. It’s even fine to view a man as someone who will put their feelings aside to be the one that strengthens everyone else. What it is not fine to do is say that this image of a man doesn’t have feelings that also need to be addressed.
Because of this idea of man that forced on us by society, we have a group of men who are trying to fit this mold. A mold that they have the capacity of filling but the problem is, they have so much pinned up in them that at some point in time they are going to explode because they’re in a mold that doesn’t have room for all the man that they are. There’s no room for tears, emotions or any signs of weakness but these things are in a man so how do they end up coming out?
Think of a man as a closed bottle of soda and any incident that causes him any type of pain as shaking the bottle. Imagine you shook that bottle up for twenty plus years without ever cracking the seal on it. The first thing that you would notice is that the bottle would begin to feel extremely tight. Out of habit I do this to my sodas when I’m finished with them. Whatever I have left when I’m done I shake it up until the bottle is tight before I throw it away. Out of the twenty ounces I started out with I probably begin shaking it with approximately two to three ounces left and even with so little in it, the bottle still gets tight. It would be even tighter if I never opened and drank the majority of it.
In like manner this is how a bottled up man is. Since he was told at an early age not to cry, he is like an unopened bottle that is constantly being shaken. Everything inside of him is swelling up causing him to be tight. He was not taught a way for him to release what was built up in him since he was a toddler. In fact he was always told to keep it in so that’s what he continues to do.
How does this look?
Let’s say a man is going through hard financial difficulties that are causing him to stress. From your experience, do you think he will sit his significant other down, tell her what’s going on and how it is affecting him? No, that is not something that majority of men would do; what they would do is get tight about the subject. Every time money is brought up or even the thought of having to spend money, he will almost shut completely down. This is because he was taught not to release his feelings.
Yes, him being told at three not to cry is causing him at forty three to ball his face up when certain subjects are brought up. Or causing him to put his head down and rub his forehead. Worst case scenario it causes him to act out in some sort of anger. In each of these instances what he is attempting to do is what he’s done his whole life, hold back his feelings. Instead of letting them out he forces more stress to build up in him. These are not the only ways a man gets tight, depending on the man there are probably infinite ways tightness is displayed.
What’s needed for growth in relationships is to identify when this happens and what triggers it. This is not limited to money. These situations can arise from any thought that causes stress to a man. Whatever the stressor is and however he gets tight is all a result of him not having a release for what is breaking him down. The absence of having one prompts him to go to the coping mechanism that he developed over the years, getting tight.
Are there any times you can think of when this happens in one form or another? A seemingly un-troubling subject is brought up and you or your mate either gets upset and doesn’t want to talk about it, acts out in a form of rage or goes to any extreme length to avoid talking about it and/or expressing how they feel about it? This is a common occurrence in relationships that causes frustration to both parties. The woman is upset because the man isn’t telling her everything and the man is upset because the woman keeps asking the same question. How do we deal with this?
The first thing you have to understand is that this does not reflect on how he feels about you. He’s not keeping secrets because he wants to hide them from you; he’s keeping them because he wants to hide his hurts from you. It was instilled in him that men don’t cry so he would rather show an emotion that is more manly like anger, than for you to see him cry. You cannot pry him out of this; you can only love him out. You have to get him to believe that you will not look at him as less of a man if he cries in front of you and most importantly that you will never use it against him.
A man who is trying to live up to the world’s version of a manly man’s biggest fear is to be looked at like he is soft. You have to be very careful how you approach him in these times and the things that you say at other times. If while watching movies or when you two are out, you say things that make him feel that you view an emotional man different than one who doesn’t show them, you will have a hard time getting him to release because he doesn’t trust you. Before you attempt to talk to him about this you have you to change how you talk about the subject in conversations unrelated to him.
Also, understanding that this is not him being a jerk should change how you respond to him in these instances. Instead of getting mad at him and turning it into an argument, this new information should make you have some sympathy for your hurting man. Is it right that he didn’t tell you that you don’t have the money to pay a bill? No. But can you fully be mad at him when you understand that out of love for you, he would rather deal with the stress of figuring out how to handle it alone than to share the stress load with you? Is he wrong for shutting down, responding rudely or acting out in anger? Yes, yes, YES! Question is, is the goal to figure out who is right or wrong or how to peacefully cohabitate?
Being aware of why is more than half the battle when it comes to being mad at someone. If you hear someone call you a name, anger will be the typical response. If you’re aware that the person has turrets, that knowledge will curb how you feel. Not that they were right for calling you a name but you understand why. The purpose of this book is to get you to understand men’s whys. Hopefully you will allow this information to suppress the ill feelings you sometimes have.
Back to the bottle
So the first thing that you will notice while shaking the bottle is that it will get tight. It will stay that way and nothing will change until the top is cracked. It doesn’t have to be fully removed; as soon as there is a slight opening, the pressure will begin to push what’s on the inside out of the bottle. All the built up pressure from the twenty plus years of shaking needed, was one crack to begin to explode out.
As I go into this next part I want it to be clear that in no way shape or form do I condone domestic violence. This portion is to show men and women alike the severity of a man not having a release, so that what’s going on can be understood and the man can get help.
I think it would be safe to say that we’ve all had a soda explode on us because we didn’t know that it was previously shaken. Had we known it was shaken, we would have let it sit and settle for a while because normally we don’t want our sodas to explode on us. Therefore being conscious of the consequence alters our actions towards the soda.
In the court of law they have what is called a “Crime of Passion” in which if someone who is in a committed relationship finds their lover in the act of cheating and kills one or both parties, even though it was murder, they would be tried more leniently or potentially get found not guilty. In order for this to be proven the defendant would have to prove that they committed the murder as soon as the rage from their passion rose and they didn’t have time to cool down1. There is a certain level of sympathy for the murderer because of the trauma they experienced. In those cases rage occurs from one traumatic experience happening where the individual never had the time to release their emotions; their actions were somewhat uncontrollable from the result of an emotional pain.
With men we’re talking twenty plus years of unreleased emotional pain. They’ve had time to cool down and think things over but never let them out so as soon as there is one crack, every piece of pinned up anger could potentially come out. You could ask him why he was late picking the kids up and trigger subconscious thoughts of his father never coming back to get him that were never released. Now he lashes out at you with the anger he’s had for his father all of this time. There are countless ways to unknowingly provoke a man into rage; he is not absolved from his responsibility to control himself but if you’ve dealt or are dealing with these types of actions, this should help you to no longer look at him as a crazy violent man.
This is not an appeal for women to stay in an abusive relationship, if you are in one you can get him help from a distance. This is to help women keep from and/or alleviate developing anger, disgust or hatred towards a man they love because of his actions (which are bad) that are really a cry for help. Their conduct, like the crimes of passion is somewhat uncontrollable and there should be a certain level of sympathy granted but not to the point where it is taken advantage of.
Martin Luther King said “Only love can make an enemy your friend” and in these cases only love can ease the pain and lesson the friction between the two. What creates the most hostility in a relationship is when the man’s anger is met with anger. It is not the woman’s fault that she returns anger with anger since she had no knowledge of the emotions he never shared with her but from this point forward she should approach it differently.
I know this is a lot to take in and it might even sound like a bunch of excuses. I totally get it if you’re thinking this is a bunch of BS and that your man should know how to control himself. To those of you who may be thinking along these terms I ask you this, how’s your method of resolving this going? I know arguing with him isn’t making it any better. I know being quiet yet having an attitude isn’t making your nights any easier. And I know for sure if this is turning violent or he has you afraid that it one day will, that you are not living in peace. The only way to stop the exploding is to put the lid back on and let it settle.
This means you do what we men do all the time, apologize to keep the peace, even though you know you didn’t do anything wrong. This is just to put the lid back on so he doesn’t continue to erupt. Let him settle down then talk to him about it later, not from a place of frustration but of concern. By this point in the book you get why he is angry, so you can begin to talk to him about the root cause of him snapping out and not the symptom.
One of the biggest reasons we don’t resolve majority of issues in this country is because we only look at and deal with actions. For the most part, no one is looking at why someone does something. It’s so easy to get upset with someone because they do something you don’t like; it’s too hard to discover why they did it. No one wants to put in the work anymore nowadays.
Relationships require that you put in the work. You can’t let being mad be the end result when your partner is acting tight or responds with some sort of attitude. We can’t help if it upsets us initially but we can catch ourselves before we say something we shouldn’t and put ourselves in their shoes before we respond.
We’ve all been taught to think before we speak. This really has to be applied while in a relationship. I am training myself to look at things from different points of views before I speak. For example: My girlfriend’s phone broke and she was upset about losing her pictures. In my mind I’m thinking, she’s going overboard with this, it’s not that deep. Then I had to think, “But how would I feel if that was me?” I had to stop thinking she was going overboard because fact was a month prior I lost my pictures and was upset.
When it happened to me, I wanted her to understand why I was doing everything I could to save my pictures but as soon as it was her actions, I’m thinking she’s going overboard. This happens all too much in a variety of forms. If we act a certain way, we want people to understand but we don’t give the same opportunity to the others. Ladies, next time your man is mad or tight don’t get mad at him for it, think about a time you were mad at something and wanted him to understand.
If you’ve read this far, you see the importance of releasing your stress before it begins to control your actions. It is imperative that you find a friend to confide in, a support group or choose a woman you can trust with your weaknesses to be in a relationship with. As long as you hold everything in, you are a walking time bomb. You might not result to violence but chances are you will push away the woman that you love because you were afraid to let her know that you hurt.
Hurting is a human characteristic; there is nothing about having emotional pains that makes you less of a man. A life without emotions doesn’t make you a more of a man it makes you less of human. I’m not encouraging you to wear all of your emotions on your sleeve because some people can’t handle that side of you but there are a few people in your life that you can confide in. If not, DO NOT be afraid to seek professional help.
Since this book is about relationships, there is one thing that is a must; you have to establish trust with your mate. If you think she is going to hold that you cried over your head or that she’s not going to look at you as a man anymore because you opened up to her emotionally, you don’t need to be with her. But if this is the woman that you want to start a family and spend the rest of your life with, do her a favor and allow her the opportunity to be intimate with more than just your body.
I’ve written this to get the women to understand us but we first have to understand ourselves. We can’t keep walking around saying nothing is wrong with us when we have multiple things going on that are. It will only eat us up mentally and hinder us from being the best version of ourselves.
Stress causes us to act a variety of different ways. Did you know that you are a much better friend, father, boyfriend, husband, son etc than you have been because of what’s pinned up in you? It’s time to let that guy out and the only way is to let your pain out. You can’t be the man you want to be and the man your family needs if you’re broken inside. When life is getting the best of you, be a man and cry.
There is no way around this; a man has to cry sometimes. If he is going to be healthy, he needs to have a release for all the pain he’s presently dealing with and what he’s dealt with in the past. There is so much hurt and pain that is built up in him that he needs to get out in order for him to heal from it. So what need to be established right now is the both of you understanding that it is ok and manly to cry.
Everything you’ve been taught and how you previously viewed a man has to be thrown out the window. The ideal image of man that was given to us was not a whole man; that image was missing vital traits of a man such as emotions and tears. You two have to agree that crying does not depreciate manliness and a man releasing his pains has to be encouraged.
As I stated earlier, there has to be an extremely high level of trust built. If a man doesn’t think he can trust you with his weaknesses, he will never expose them and rightfully so. Mutually trust has to be gained and extended. This won’t happen overnight but both of you need to have a goal you are trying to achieve.
The man needs to be growing towards trusting his woman with all his hurts and the woman has to be growing towards being able to handle all his hurts without it changing her perception of him. Collectively you have to work on getting rid of the image of man you had before and be open to everything a real man is. Be open to a man that has emotions, cries and expresses his feelings. When weight of not being able to cry is lifted, the man will have the release he needs and the tightness and seemingly unprovoked anger will be able to subside.
From Chapter 3 of my latest book “Broken Pillars. Understanding men supporting the weight of their families without attending to their own brokenness.”