Growing up, I never once saw my dad’s tears. Whether in moments of grief or when our hearts were so full of joy. This made dad stand out in the family as the rock of solace, cleft for all family members. He appeared stout and strong. I was led to believe that as a man grows older, his lacrimal glands over the surface of the eyes move from the head to the sole of his feet. That way, the tears find it awfully hard to work against gravity, finding their way to the eyes. Two questions always linger in my mind to this day though: ‘should men cry at all?’ and ‘is not crying a metric of measuring toughness for a man?’
Just the other day, a friend of mine put me to stitches when he said he cries as often as quarterly per annum. That, according me, was an insult to manhood. That was forfeiting the first rule of manliness that states: A man must not cry under any circumstance that does not revolve around the loss of a loved one. And even during instances of bereavement, the man shall not cry in public. But the friend, being a good debater, countered my hard stance with the shortest text from the Holy Book, ‘Jesus Wept’. Childhood memories were rekindled as that very text used to come in handy whenever I was caught off-guard by our Sabbath School teacher when asked to recite a memory verse. I was always quick to mumble, ‘Jesus Wept’. Jesus the perfect man cried.
My two questions still stand and I consider it a privilege, a great and singular honor, to allow you, dear reader, to tap from the wisdom my great ancestors, from the infamous Emanga hill in South Nyanza, passed to me. In a bid to answer the questions.
Tears Are the Summer Showers to the Soul
Truth be told, we need never to be ashamed of our tears. They are the rain upon the blinding dust of the earth that overlies our hearts. The human body needs to shed tears just as much as it needs to laugh. A good long session of weeping during severe distress can often make you feel better even if your circumstances haven’t changed one bit. Despite all that, crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But then you have to stop sooner or later, and then decide what to do or device mechanisms that will get you to move on.
Scientists assert that chemicals build up in the body during times of elevated stress and therefore when we emotionally cry, our bodies rid themselves of these toxins and waste products. Stifling emotional tears on the other hand can cause elevated problems like a risk of heart diseases and hypertension. And so, whether male or female, do not hold back the tears when you are overwhelmed.
How Often is Normal Crying?
According to the German Society of Ophthalmology, which has collated different scientific studies on the phenomenon, ladies shed tears on average between 30 and 64 times a year whereas men cry just 6 to 17 times during the same period.
Crying every single day of your life is a sign of severe depression and it would be prudent that you seek professional help such that you would overcome. Repeated daily crying causes persistent sadness, anxiety and empty moods. You get to lose interest in any kind of fancy activities around you, you get restless, you feel worthless, hopeless and pessimistic. Ladies are the most affected by this phenomenon and end up being mad at everybody for no particular reason. Cease crying like it is a necessity of life.
This happens quite a lot especially during losses of loved ones. To deal with that, always focus on your breathing. Take ten slow and deep breaths. The extra oxygen you avail to the body brings a soothing effect. Distance yourself from the main stressor that causes the uncontrolled crying. Distract your mind from thinking of the sad situation facing you.
Men always have the trick to this. They stay strong for their family members and people who look up to them. The same can be done by anybody. Stay strong for somebody else. This should not be a leeway to bottle up the tears, the body may overwhelmingly break down.
It Is Okay to Break Down in Public
When a man sheds tears, particularly in the public eye, people sit up and take notice. Then, and only then, we know something consequential is occurring.
Joe Biden, the former US Vice President couldn’t hold back his tears before the world when President Obama surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He had to turn his back to the cameras at one point to compose himself. That is a most healthy way to express joy.
Earl Woods was more than a father to Tiger Woods. Earl passed away from prostate cancer. Few days after mourning his dad, Tiger dedicated to his dad a tournament of the Open Championship. After sinking his final putt, Tiger cried painfully on the caddie’s shoulder at the watch of thousands of fans, thinking of the man who had gotten him to be the greatest golfer in the world.
Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was riding high during his time. He had a television audience of two million people. He used to call out fellow evangelists who were crooked in their ways to repent. He once was caught with a prostitute in a brothel by some church members. Before preaching the following Sunday, he wailed uncontrollably before his real audience as well as those watching from their Television sets as he repented, ‘I have sinned against you my Lord, I ask for sincere forgiveness this day before this multitude. Cleanse every stain of my life until it is in the sea of God’s forgiveness.’ He never preached that day. His tears did.
And so many more prominent and strong people have cried publicly.
It is therefore an act of manliness to cry. Men should cry. Not crying is not a metric to toughness.