I was going to write a piece on gaslighting and mansplaining and how a stupid man made me cry on the weekend.
A man-child who is a known narcissist and unfortunately a neighbour, who accused me of something ridiculous and when I explained his mistake began to calmly speak over me with his singular version of events. I got very angry and gave him a full serve of my well-deserved fury (of which I am proud, speaking up isn't in my nature) but afterwards I needed to cry.
After mulling this situation over for a day or so it occurred to me that it isn't his behaviour I want to re-examine but my internal reaction to my own.
Crying is very cathartic and necessary. It evacuates so many physical manifestations of negative emotions (grief, loneliness, frustration) which are otherwise bottled up and left to fester. It is healthy and natural.
Crying is seen to this day as a negative thing by our society. For men, it is to be avoided at all costs for fear of seeming weak.
Feminine. Girly. A Cry Baby. Soft.
You can see where I'm going with that.
What troubles me in regards to crying is that I seem go have internalized the same shame that our culture applies to men. I have always rejected being seen as feminine or girly by those around me as I perceive no strength in that. Like men, I don't want to be seen as weak or soft. I hate feeling that way. Somehow less than. Inferior.
For circumstances in which crying seems "appropriate", like sad films or bad news or hormones I have no problem with a good cry. Yet why, oh why, must I cry when I am angry?! I can't stand it. I stand outside of myself watching the tears flow and judge harshly over this conduct. Be more like a man is the internal message. Toughen up. Get angry but don't cry. Ugh.
Why, when I have risen to the challenge of a misogynistic ignoramus and given him "what for!" must I then collapse into a puddle of tears?!
Of course, raging at myself for crying will only lead to more of the same. It feels so frustrating.
Until I remember that this is just another way in which women are diminished, in which we diminish ourselves. That to subscribe to patriarchal notions of emotions and expressions of such is to perpetuate the lie that there is anything wrong with such a basic human process. Crying is just crying. It is venting whatever is churning you up, be it sadness and sorrow, or rage and indignance. Adjectives like silly or girly or pathetic need not apply.
It's time to have a big rethink regarding how I feel about angry crying. I can choose to believe it gives me strength and power, the male narrative doesn't have to apply to me. I can strike out on my own. Not being male, I don't have to subscribe to this predominant version of emotional correctness. Just like Alice I can create my own set of rules and continue accordingly.
This is a complete and welcome revelation to me. Another layer of mystifying and unnecessary pandering to someone else's concept of who I should be has been torn away. My goodness, isn't it good to be in your 40s and just not give a shit anymore.
Not there yet? Don't fret, it happens to the best of us. 40 IS fabulous!
I am reveling in this new version of myself and experimenting with my comfort zones, albeit unknowingly. In my 40s I am learning to express indignance and anger outwardly and more openly and it kind of feels amazing. Truly I've been waiting my whole life for this. Wish I'd known decades ago that it is my choice to use my voice in anger and defence.
So, if you piss me off enough be warned, I might just let you have it.
But once I've done that could you pass the Kleenex? I'm going to bloody well have an enormous cry and eventually feel better about the whole damn thing.