I Cried Today

I’m Man Enough to Admit it

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“I felt his hot tears and the loneliness of man and the sweetness of all men and the aching haunting beauty of the living” ― John Fante, Full of Life

I have a photograph of my mother holding me when I was an infant. It’s the only relic I have of her. She’s in her late twenties, paper thin in her powder blue dress that ties at the waist. Her imitation blonde hair hangs in front of her shoulders and rests behind her ears. Her feet are planted in a manor which leads me to believe I’m heavy to swaddle.

The photograph itself is as old as I am. I imagine we feel similar. Separated at the ends, faded and bent just slightly. It crinkles beneath my fingertips. As the outer layer continues to lift with each passing year so does the only evidence I have that she ever had any type of relationship with me.

Her skin is pale. Dark shades of exhaustion engulf her eyes leaving her to appear plagued. The thing which stands out the most to me is her body language that speaks misery and she isn’t wearing a smile.

She passed away two decades later when she was only 50 years old. When she died I was relieved. Her suffering had ended. She experienced manic depression and self medicated with opioid addiction.

I often wonder who took the picture of us that day. Was it my father? Her mother? Was the person behind the camera, whoever it may have been, the reason she looked so sad? Or was it because she was holding a child she never wanted to have?

Sometimes we need a good cry to let it all out. The ugly feelings trapped inside of us, eating away at the fabric of our being. Stripping us of hope and inspiration. Anger, sadness, frustration and fear are all inclusive and desperate to be released.

There’s a calmness deep inside after the last tear. Eyes burning, stuffed nose, puffy cheeks. These are only on the surface. The alleviation of emotion is what truly matters.

I grew up in a home where the only emotion I was permitted to show was silence.

Silence.

If I were happy I was punished. If I were sad I was ridiculed. Any emotion I showed outside of silence was handled with consequence. I was conditioned to believe I had to swallow it and each tear I shed while suffering my consequence was met with an even more powerful fist.

In a sense this made me stronger as I grew into adulthood. I rarely ever cry. At most- maybe once a year. It’s near impossible to break me. I wasn’t taught to survive but I learned to survive. I’m more stark than a fighter could ever be, but it feels so good to cry.

It feels so damn good.

Some days, like today, I feel the same as I see my mother in that old worn photograph. I would grow up and share her disease of manic depression. I may feel the same but I’m not the person she was.

I cried today. I’m man enough to admit it.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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