As a British citizen I was brought up with the concept of the stiff upper lip. The idea of showing any public display of emotion is enough to make me want to stand up, straighten my tie and apologise to the entire room (even on the bus).
Our cultural emotional capacity is synonymous with Olivia Colman’s ‘nervous raspberry’ when she received her Oscar for Best Actress. To mark the moment of public recognition for her achievements, how does she choose to express her overwhelming swathe of emotions? By producing a phonemic fart from her lips, of course.
In an age where we spend so much time communicating essential information via electronic devices, are we now uncontrollably compelled to let it all out when we actually come face-to-face with another human being? Will it get to the point where as soon as we lock eyes with each other we are reduced into a blubbering mess of repressed pathos?
With widespread toxic masculinity and an aversion to discussing mental health, I encourage anyone who is feeling the pressure to have a good cry. Obviously this has to be in a justified situation: no one has any mercy for my own outbreaks of weeping when I’ve accidentally, (okay, self-indulgently) veered my way onto the Battersea Dogs Home website on a PMT-fuelled afternoon. Big eyes and little paws searching for love are guaranteed to unleash a deluge of emotion. (N.B. this isn’t necessarily recommended unless your colleagues are on the same 28-day cycle, as they may grow to empathise less.)
Crying is a form of release for our suffering and to see someone else express their suffering is also something that can bring us together. Particularly for men, in an age where we are just beginning to acknowledge this is socially acceptable behaviour and won’t make all the other lads think you’re a wimp who can’t be trusted with power tools. If you’ve ever witnessed one of your straight-laced ‘lad’s-lad’ friends break down about an issue that makes him feel incredibly vulnerable then you will know just how much more respect you will suddenly feel for that person. Expressing emotional vulnerability will also help develop trust. Although I would not recommend any gentleman tries this technique in the smoking area of a nightclub. It will not get you into a woman’s pants, she is not your therapist and she will see right through you.
Grief is something that we rarely talk about yet it is something we have all had, will have, or are currently trying to deal with. Like trying to stuff a large pillow into a small pillow case, you just keep shoving and stuffing until it rips. Then when you’re covered in stuffing and someone asks you, “Why are you covered in all this stuff?” the only response you’ve been conditioned to blurt out is, “What stuff? I’m not crying, I’m perfectly fine. YOU’RE CRYING!”
Sometimes all it takes is a particular song to come on in a coffee shop which triggers a memory and suddenly I’m bawling uncontrollably, mascara down my face, asking for the sugar with a mix of semaphore and charades.
Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of my new insurance breakdown cover designed for those who, like me, are prone to having a mental breakdown in a public space. In this instance someone in a high-vis jacket and with a tool box of snacks will come and give you a professional hug, administer some unrefined sugar and tell you that it’s all going to be okay and that you’re safe to get back on the road.
So when the time comes and the kettle boils, the pillow won’t get in the case and the storm is brewing, just have a good cry.
Image by Crimfants – https://www.flickr.com/photos/crimfants/327861820/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2227266