I mentioned on a previous post on what the first week of being a Dad had taught me that I had a cry-teria. A cry-teria is simply a list of reasons that justify me shedding a tear. I had stated that my fear of crying had been conquered after the birth of my daughter. I was wrong. It came back about ten days later.
I have a cry-teria because crying makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and I need to be able to intellectually justify doing so. I know this sounds weird. It is. I can just about manage my wife crying, but, to see other man cry makes me cringe, so he better have a good reason for it.
I fully appreciate that I’m the weird one, but this is just the way my mind works, and for me, probably stemming from my background, crying is a physical demonstration of psychological and physical weakness. I know that isn’t true. However, you can’t always shake off these ideas from your childhood, so my way of negotiating this is by having my cry-teria which are reasons for when it’s okay for me and other men (if they wish to) to cry.
This one is pretty obvious. Moderate to severe pain. Crying is perfectly justifiable on experiencing moderate to severe pain, so if you break your leg its okay to cry. However, this doesn’t mean if you get a paper cut or stub your toe you can let the flood gates open. Obviously this is a little subjective because everyone experiences pain differently but I’m thinking at least something worthy of a trip to A & E.
This one is also blindingly obvious. Death or suffering of a loved one. only robots or Predator wouldn’t think crying in this case may be justified. I’m not of course saying you have to cry in this scenario, only that it is permitted under the cry-teria. Crying in such a case can actually be a pretty helpful way to express anger, stress, sadness and pain but people are different and we all have different ways of dealing with death. We’re on safe ground with this one as Jesus, the most perfect human ever to live cried when his friend Lazarus died. It’s described in the shortest verse in the whole Bible found in John 11:35 and described succinctly as simply ‘Jesus wept’.
I actually had to change this one in preparation for the arrival of my daughter. Existential crisis/experience. So this one is slightly broader than the first two, this basically encompasses things like the birth of a (your) child, crying at the birth of a friends child is a definite no-no. This also includes experiences like a mid-life crisis, depression, encountering God, shame etc. These are by nature rare events (as I hope are the first two) so you can’t use cry-teria 3 for just anything, like the death of a friends dog or your hamster, completing Final Fantasy or getting a promotion etc.
This one is hard for me to write because I was forced to in retrospect but it’s just about enough different from criteria 1,2 & 3 to warrant being mentioned although it is sort of covered by them already. Deeply emotionally manipulative true stories, either in movie or written form. I’m hardly ever caught out by this, but, I have about two movies (Schindler’s List and The Pianist (based on a true story of sorts and the documentary Sicko, there’s a part in that, that if you don’t cry you are seriously a sociopath) and one book that have pulled on my heart strings enough to illicit some water leaking from my eyes. I hate being beaten. What isn’t acceptable under cry-teria 3 is crying at fictional books or movies, no matter how emotionally manipulative they are, I don’t care if it’s ‘Marley and Me’ or ‘Atonement’ (just the ending).
The book was the most embarrassing one for me, because one of the things I hate about crying is the loss of control. I was reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas which is a fantastic book I recommend reading. I had been reading it on the train to work in the mornings for my commute and I got to this one part (the love letter’s between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, it will make sense if you know what happens as your reading it, as I did) where I could feel my self welling up. Obviously I had to put it away, very quickly, no man wants to be seen crying on the train to London Waterloo in front of a packed train. So, I had to read it when I got home to get through the horrible bit and I couldn’t read it without crying. So embarrassing. I was sitting in the chair reading it whimpering like an injured dog when my wife found me. We promised to never talk about it again. It was made worse as we had a friend staying and I was super worried he might have heard me, but thankfully he didn’t.
So there you have it, these are my 4 cry-teria, I usually only speak of having three cry-teria because I usually include cry-teria 4 within the other 3 but I just thought it needed elaborating.
I wonder do any other men have a cry-teria? Have I been too harsh or missed something obvious?