As if there weren’t enough forces in our country and our world trying to get us to not feel . . .
Ourselves, utilizing our own defenses to keep from feeling pain from long, long ago, as well as pain from today or even experiencing anything today that might trigger the ancient pain.
Other people, who do the same thing to themselves, demeaning, ridiculing, attacking, abandoning us when we do feel. Our families, employers-employees-coworkers. Our doctors, lawyers, teachers, agents, coaches, spiritual representatives.
Alcohol, street drugs, and pharmaceutical drugs and the companies and people who manufacture and sell them. (If we were supported to feel our feelings and had built the capacity to do that, we wouldn’t believe we needed mind altering drugs to numb us against those feelings.) The military that wants its members to be strong and unemotional to the point of giving them propranalol to harden their defenses against the feelings that get stirred up in them by the horrors of war. (If they weren’t hardened against the feelings, they would feel the horror and perhaps we’d finally find an alternative to war!)
Politicians, who appeal to the very emotions, like fear, that we try to bury and hold at bay and then use those feelings they have stirred up to their own advantage. (If we were not afraid of feeling our feelings, and if we were taught to discern which ones are here and now feelings and which are feelings from our childhood that have been triggered by something or someone in the current time . . . we wouldn’t be so needlessly vulnerable to politicians, or anyone using our own vulnerability against us.) Scientific studies that can be skewed to prove anything.
And the media . . . in so many different ways.
Last week, on a well known television show, a show I often appreciate, they did a story on tears.
In the story, under the guise of humor, under the guise of “science,” with a demeaning story title – The Crying Game – and under the guise of scientific backup – they did a story on “male aversion to female tears.”
A study in Israel asserts that the impact on men exposed to the imperceptible scent of women’s tears is that the exposure lowers men’s testosterone levels and causes the parts of their brain that register sexual arousal to be less active. In short, the study found that imperceptible signals given off by our bodies are perceived unconsciously by others . . . something proven time and again. Perhaps if we truly knew ourselves and our natures, we would understand that upon witnessing the woman he loves crying, and unconsciously perceiving the natural chemical signals she’s giving off, not only a man’s feeling self, but also his physical self receives the signal that she needs him to care, comfort, and communicate with her, not to be sexual with her, and responds accordingly.
Rather than emphasizing the actual findings of the study . . . the media report of this study instead chose to make a conclusion not even remotely asserted by the study: that a women’s tears “annoy” men.
Thank goodness for a famous sex therapist, who talked with the reporter and told him that when his wife cries, she (the sex therapist) wanted him to ask ‘what’s the matter?’ And ‘can I help?’ and not to worry if his penis was erect! She didn’t want men to draw the wrong conclusion, using the study to prove that there’s science backing up why men are annoyed when their wives cry.
But the damage had already been done . . . The supposed lightness and humor with which the story was told was easy, ‘comfort’ food for those men who don’t take responsibility for themselves and their own feelings: that the reason they’re annoyed is not from a drop in testosterone, but rather because of their discomfort with their own vulnerable feelings, or that some wound from long ago is triggered when their wife cries.
And it was easy food for those women who are “trained” to please their husbands and so will try to keep from crying in the future . . . or who will use their husbands’ so-called “natural annoyance” as an excuse to keep defending against their own painful feelings.
And not only did the show degrade women’s tears, but at the very end, it degraded men’s tears, too, asking ‘What impact does it have on women when men cry?’ and saying it’s particularly relevant with our ‘weepy’ new Speaker of the House.
Look at this just one example of what we do to each other and ourselves …. Degrading women’s tears and degrading men’s tears. Degrading our vulnerability! Our real vulnerability . . . something I, as a depth psychotherapist, spend many hours, many weeks, many years working to help people rediscover and reclaim!
Look around us ….
People numbing themselves, unable to feel, unable to connect with themselves behind their walls and beneath their masks.
Without our feelings, and without allowing them and exploring them, we become automatons. And then we raise our children from those robotic modes. And we criticize and demean them for their feelings . . . for crying as babies, for expressing hurt and fear and even anger. And we never help them build their capacity to feel. So they grow up, not treasuring their real vulnerability, in fact afraid of it. So they grow up unnecessarily vulnerable to all the forces trying to get us not to feel.
Here’s the vicious cycle!
What have we done to our world?
How are we going to save our world?
By healing and safely feeling so we can rediscover and reclaim our true needed vulnerability.
© Judith Barr 2011