Monday, January 19, 2009
Pygar has been exploring “tears” and their impact, and in his usual caring manner and search for insight, wants to know how many of his readers deal with ‘tears’, what elicits them, how they view them ...(http://xpygarx.blogspot.com/2009/01/tears.html).
His questions provoked a rather contradictory response in me and while I went to comment more than once, I realized in the end that I would have to explore it further in my own venue as my thoughts were convoluted, complicated and verbose.
My gut reaction was quite simply to declare “ I HATE tears” and further thoughts on tears, while providing some insight, did not change that initial flush of emotion at all. For, right or wrong, it is bred in the bone to me to equate tears with weakness and I cannot tolerate nor abide any weakness in myself. I despise crying and have spent my life fighting a natural propensity to tears, refusing to surrender to a passionate heart and a genetic predisposition for revelling in great emotions. (The Irish are well known for their ability to tear up at the slightest brush of emotion – from rage to passion to love – requited or unrequited.)
I cannot stand to be vulnerable. And there is a vulnerability to the soft eyes, the trembling lip, the heart which leaks in trails down soft cheeks.
I cannot stand to be seen as weak. And while society wrestles with the reality of tears and the knowledge that tears do not necessarily equate weakness nor does the saltwater of passion mean a lack of character, I can’t internalize that any more than the general populace.
Tears have caused me much anguish during the years. Oddly, while I have learned since very young to ruthlessly suppress the tears of sorrow, pain and anguish, I continue to find it almost impossible to contain tears of rage. Which infuriates me even more. For women are still underestimated, seen as emotionally unstable, irrational and apt to be dismissed out of hand. To be a rational, intelligent person and have your concerns dismissed because of being unable to contain a few inadvertent tears is infuriating ... and to have my rationality challenged, my facts suspect, my arguments dismissed is galling to the extreme – because individuals look at the tears and ignore the substance of your argument.
I don’t necessarily feel that my obsession with NOT crying is linked to any child trauma either. I had, when all was said and done, a loving childhood with passionate parents, both of whom were unashamed to cry and did so on occasions of sorrow, joy and passion (whether fuelled by rage or simply a conviction of their validity). But I do believe that it is partially a personality quirk, intrinsic to who I am. For in my own children, I see myself in that respect in my eldest, who you could have flayed alive before she would cry while my second one never stopped her wailing ....
Ultimately, tears to me are a weakness and one in which my pride prevents me from indulging.
I think too that being a woman in male-dominated fields in my 20s and early 30s (1970s/1980s) at a time when that meant you bore the brunt of harassment and contempt, when you had to fight hard for simple respect, when you had to work twice as hard and twice as long as men, meant ANY vulnerability, anything that linked you even tenuously to what were perceived as “weak” feminine traits HAD to be ruthlessly and positively suppressed and tears certainly would fit that kind of narrow viewpoint.
Further, I have a rather rigid sense of honour, and tears have been a woman’s weapon for many years (understandably so, shorn was we have been and continue to be, of many other ways of defending ourselves or asserting our own will). But I despise manipulation of any form and while I believe that most women do NOT use tears to manipulate, there is enough perception of this being a “feminine” trait that I avoid it as yet another reason to suppress my tears – for fear I would be seen as resorting to a backhand and less than honourable way of getting what I wish.
One of the questions asked in Kind Dom’s blog, is do they provide a catharsis?
For me, NO. In fact, they leave me more anguished than before, bereft and vulnerable. As if personifying my dislike of my vulnerability, tears of sorrow or anguish physically hurt ... it is as if some form of acid has etched its way into the saltwater of my body and escapes to trickle burning down my cheeks, hot, acidic and hurtful to the soul and to the body.
And when I do cry, I want to be left strictly, completely alone – not unlike if I hurt myself physically – whether spiritual, emotional or physical, when I hurt, I am an animal who needs to be left alone to deal with the pain as best I can. To touch me, feel me, reach out to me is ultimately destructive to my sense of self and my ability to control my emotions and will leave me crushed. I don’t think that is necessarily a positive trait, incidentally, and can be immensely frustrating to those who love you and reach out caring hands only to have them smacked away a snarling virago spitting rage at them for daring to care ...
I slipped once and fell down steps and broke three ribs and absolutely refused to even be touched or helped to my feet but lay, pulled in on myself, clutching my agony to me, fiercely mine, not to be shared .... and that is how I am when tears do sometimes claim me.
Even physical pain seldom makes me cry. I have an immensely strong constitution and take pride in my tolerance and ability to withstand pain. In actual fact, physical pain is probably the LEAST likely trigger for tears (which, incidentally, makes me a very desirable masochist, unless of course, the tears are the desired outcome of the session).
Oddly, I have NO issue with tears in others and soften and want to reach out and nurture when I see others’ tears. Other tears open the deep wellspring of caring I carry inside me always and makes me move mountains to bring smiles, to bring some level of comfort to the individual crying ...
But tears... at the end of it all, I HATE tears in me.
Posted by selkie at 2:24 PM