by Susan S.
The memory still brings chills to my spine: A frazzled parent at the mall with a crying toddler yells at the child, "If you don't stop crying, I'm going to give you something to cry about!" But of course that only makes the crying louder and more desperate.
When did we as a society decide we need to live like Spock from "Star Trek?" Stoic, show no emotions. Paint a fake smile on your face no matter what's inside. If you feel, bury it with anti-depressants, alcohol, drugs, food, shopping ... anything to prevent you from discomfort.
Even our language conveys our opposition to crying. Children throw "tantrums" and have "crying fits." We tell boys to be "macho," to "be men," and might even falsely call them gay if they cry. Girls are told to "grow up," and women who show emotion are labeled as "hysterical" and "mentally ill."
Although I am quick to show tears, I find it difficult to allow myself to truly cry. When I cried as a child, my mother mocked me. "Oh, boo hoo hoo," she'd say sarcastically. "Boo hoo."
Mental health professionals didn't do much better. As a teenager, I shared something very painful with a psychiatrist, and I began crying. He stood up. "I can't talk to you if you're going to carry on like that," and he abruptly left the room. The session was over.
And these experiences don't even come close to what awaits victims of abuse and domestic violence for crying or showing emotion.
So it is a difficult process to learn emotions are not only allowed, but also are completely valid and deserve to be heard. We have a right to cry and find a safe space to do so. We have a right to grieve. We have a right to be angry. We have a right to feel and a right to heal. Let's reclaim it.