Cry, Baby!

Tuesday December 10th 2013, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Main

In the 45 years I knew him, I never once saw my father cry. And I don’t ever recall seeing my older brothers cry either. This made it hard for me as a little boy, since I cried a LOT! It definitely made me an alien creature both at home and in school.

So let’s be clear, men in America don’t cry.

Now I could almost imagine that it’s possible American men don’t have feelings. Or that the male psyche is constructed in such a way that crying is not in the repertoire of emotional responses to a situation. But I’m pretty sure that I’m a man (by chromosomes and chronology) … and I cry.

If you know me at all, however, you’ll see that I’m up front about the fact that I live life through an emotional lens. And even though this might seem like a handicap in the professional world, I have a different take on it. In my experience, I’m often able to tune into a person’s emotional state, which in turn helps me understand their motivations, their anxieties, and their actions.

The only downside to this is when I try to suppress, ignore, or divert my emotional take on the world. By holding in my feelings, I become depressed, disinterested in people, and anxious. When I was married, I often told my husband that I would rather we argued out in the open for 5 minutes than stewing about something for 5 months.

While there are many reasons that I grew up overeating and lived most of my life as an overweight person, I’m guessing that this attempt to stifle my “excess” emotions accounts for at least 50% of it. Eating serves to distract, it creates immediate–and often intense–pleasure, and it mucks up brain chemistry in a way that can make everything “feel better.”

Not being a scientist, I can’t claim to know for sure, but having a layer of fat on my body also felt like a way to insulate myself from the world. Being heavier makes a person less noticeable socially, and on the flip side it gives you a sense of “presence”. So overeating seemed to give me a double effect.

But life has a way of defeating false defenses, and I found myself falling into a deep depression last summer, despite consuming a heck of a lot of sugar. And I shed a lot of tears. Clearly, the system wasn’t working!

Fortunately, during the fall I experienced a recovery from my depression. I not only felt renewed confidence and resolve about the future, I also got my weight management groove back. It was definitely a virtuous cycle of feeling better and eating better. It seems like a miracle to me now that I lost over 20 pounds during this time, and felt strong and healthy in body and mind. (A huge shout out to my WeightWatchers leader and friend Melanie, as well as everyone in the meeting that helped support me.)

Yet… you know what? My problems aren’t solved. I still feel the weight of the world on my shoulders on occasion. I sometimes even wake up with a start at 2:30 in the morning wondering what the heck I’m going to do! My job search having been an utter failure after 6 months of intense effort, I literally have no idea what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be living 90 days from now.

So yeah, I have to admit it … I still have a good cry here and there. Usually when I’m out walking around in the fresh air, for some reason. This spontaneous crying puts me on edge a little –am I falling back into depression? Is this a sign? Should I be worried? Am I about to lose it?


Or, well, maybe they just do.

Hi Jonathan
So proud of you. Yes it’s awesome to cry and let your feelings out. A lot of self talk helps and having friends like Melanie and myself and the groups help so much . Know the job hunt is frustrating but I feel it that you will get something soon since it is the new year coming and since your so positive and that is awesome it will be great. Hang In there if you want to talk you know where to find me thanks for your motovation. Being a brother to me that I don’t have love ya me

Comment by Ronni reich 12.11.13 @ 10:41 am

I think you’re doing it all right. Far better to jump in the ring and get your hands dirty. Cry, yell, scream, fight.. because if you can let yourself do that, then you can certainly laugh, love, dream, reach… It’s called living.

And what you’ve done with your eating behaviors in the past several months is a true example of turning a very very big obstacle into an amazing opportunity. You can let a block stand in your way… or you can turn it over and let it be a stepping stone over the wall. You chose the latter. Bravo, sir XO

Comment by Melanie 12.12.13 @ 8:45 pm