when i was a little girl, i remember falling off of the monkey bars one time when my father took me and my brother to play at a playground during the summer.
i cried and cried and cried; knowing that if i made it thru i i wouldn’t even feel the pain again. my father slowly but delliberately walked over to me and grabbed me roughly by the arm, setting me up on my feet. i remember clear as crystal what he said next; his actions and words shocking me out of my tears:
“we don’t cry in this family. why cry? what’s it going to resolve. the next time you slip, or fall or scratch yourself bloody in my presence i DARE you to let one tear slip. crying solves nothing. brush it off and move on.”
he abruptly let me go, nearly causing me to fall in the process. he then pulled out his pack of Kool Menthols, lit one in that *always* so bloody cool way that he still has to this day and leaned back against a nearby merry-go-round.
by this time i’d completely forgotten my skinned, bleeding hands and knees. i was fascinated because my dad rarely, if EVER talked to me anymore at that time. when i was a toddler, i remember getting all the love and attention i could handle. as i’d begun to get older (this was 2 or 3rd grade; i was maybe 8yrs old if even that) he had stopped interacting with me at all other than to yell orders and give *deserved* ass-whoopins,
“why can’t i cry? why is crying wrong? don’t u want to get the pain out so you don’t feel it, or remember it anymore?”
‘feeling is stupid. if you always let yourself be seen feeling, especially pain, people will take you for a mark and use it against you. feel nothing. if you’re able to get up and get on with it, then do so. but remember — we don’t cry in this family. we’re not weak in this family.’
…we’re not weak…
though i’ve obviously cried MANY tears since then (i had the misfortune of acquiring my grandmother’s giant heart and empathic abilities), dad’s words have always stuck with me.
my mother was different only in the sense that so much bad had happened in her life emotionally, that she was completely uncomfortable with outward shows of emotions, touching for comfort or showing any emotions whatsoever even when the situation was a happy one.
so…HOW had i continued to be the person that ‘showed out’ emotionally, no matter in private or public yet had been born to and grown up under two people so cut off from their emotions that to show any for any reason around them resulted in a physical threat or mocking and laughter?
to this day i don’t know what else to say or think about it, except to cry out — in, against, and with. …cry out because of the infinite ridiculous-ness of all we’ve ever been taught vs. that with which we were BORN. …to cry out,
Someone, Please Have Mercy on Me!”