Today I chose to take a moment to check on some things at home. I had the opportunity to chat with a man that I’ve recently met, but we rarely see each other. I would say he’s a platonic acquaintance.
For whatever reason we chatted about some life stressors and then suddenly I felt a lump in my throat, and the tears began to fall. I did what I often have done when tears crept up in odd moments, I wiped them, said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that,” and before I could say another thing he interjected with a smile. The following conversation then shifted us both.
“No, don’t do that. What you just did is a profound gift. You have no idea how important it is to cry,” he said to me with a smile.
He shared with me how there are moments when has longed to cry. He talked about wanting to express emotions with other men who have dismissed them with words such as, “Don’t be a punk.” He talked about the value of crying and how he admired women for this “gift”; how he wanted more space to cry when he needed. He spoke of how men, in general, need to cry more often, that they need to have that emotional release when stressors get to much. He talked about the health impacts of stifled emotions. I listened and echoed his sentiments.
I shared with him how important it was for me, a multiracial mother to a Black male child, to create space for all of his emotions, including when he needs to cry. I also said that I would be so valuable for him to see other men, especially Black men, cry during stressful times. For a man to tell him that crying is perfectly healthy.
I told him that I appreciated this conversation with him, a Black male, and how it’s so important for men to create safe spaces for crying. He listened and he agreed. He encouraged me to “Keep that,” and said to me again, “what you did was such a gift, thank you.”
I feel the need to add that this was a perfectly innocent conversation. We created an unexpected safe space for one another to share and hear each other’s story. It was time for me to leave and I thanked him, he thanked me, and I went along my day.
As I reflected on our conversation I remembered a conversation from about 20 years ago, when a male relative of mine was talking to his crying son. He said to the then 5-year-old child, “It’s okay, big boys cry too.” That moment is still etched in my mind as if it just happened.
I remember the value it held. That child is an adult now and we all recently saw each other at a homegoing celebration. They cried, all the men cried and many of them stood up and expressed their sadness.
I looked at the now-adult male who grew up hearing it was okay for him to cry, I stood up and walked over to put my hand on his shoulder. He leaned in and sobbed. In a world where men are called a “punk” for expressing emotions, how valuable would it be for more moments for them to cry. How valuable for them to grow up hearing, “It’s okay, big boys cry too.”
Thank you to the beautiful Divine Masculine man who shared with me today his longing to have the safe space to cry. My prayer is for more men to have such a space when needed and that they are celebrated, instead of shamed.