Friday, July 26, 2013

A Crying Shame

I've written a fair bit about crying here. I know that in our culture it can seem pretty strange for a 53-year-old man to tell you he cries a lot. I don't have much occasion to cry these days when I don't have cancer. But cancer treatment has presented me with ample opportunities.

I grew up in a household with two sisters. My Dad, typically for the 60's, worked (and travelled) a lot. So it was a pretty estrogen-rich household most of the time. I have always identified with women due to that and I probably have a slightly stronger feminine component than the average men.

In addition, I was fortunate to have a mother who taught me very well that it was always OK to show one's emotions when needed. She encouraged me to cry when I needed to, and not to be ashamed of doing so.

Our 60's household exhibited the typical family dysfunctions of the age. I spent several years, off and on in my 20s and 30s, in various forms of therapy or support groups. Mostly trying to figure out relationships and how to be a functional partner in one but with plenty of benefits in other areas of my life, too. During those times, I found that when I was crying it often meant I was about to uncover a new bit of truth about myself. Approaching that truth would always be painful. And acknowledging it was always a huge relief. And each one opened doors to yet more discoveries and growth. I eventually remodeled myself into someone I'm fairly proud of and crying was a central part of that process.

The bottom line is that I believe crying is valuable and necessary and I'm glad that I can do it (and admit to doing it) without much embarrassment.

In this cancer experience, Wonderful Wife and I felt pretty emotionally walloped by the whole diagnosis process. When treatment started, I felt like I had very minimal emotional reserves. When the insults of treatment began to accumulate, all reserves were dissipated.

On bad days I have described my disposition to Wonderful Wife as "My skin is very thin today." On those days I might be sitting on the sofa waiting for the discomfort of the day to pass and I'll just spontaneously start crying. And many times I have hugged Wonderful Wife or my sisters only to cry on their shoulders.

One benefit is that The Progeny have now seen their dad cry. It scared them the first time. But I explained to them that I was just very tired of feeling sick all the time and I felt worn out. They understood that. In fact, they started giving me even more sympathy and encouragement.

Finally, I also talk about crying on this blog because when I started it my intent was to describe the experience as honestly as I possibly could.

P.S. After Big Sister caught up on the blog, she said to me, "The parts I like best are where you talk about your emotions." Big Sister, this post is dedicated to you.

1 comment:

  1. Sheesh, thanks for making me get all teary eyed as I read this at my office. You made me cry, and I don't even have cancer!