My friend and fellow writer Troy Aaron Ratliff explains himself below, but I wanted to give you a bit of an introduction. I met Troy in an online writers’ group about a year ago. Troy is a wonderfully supportive and creative person. We hit it off right away. He describes himself as a snuggly cephalopod, and I tell everyone I’m part-mermaid so we were instant kindred spirits of the sea.
I was so moved after reading Troy’s very personal post in our writers’ group. See, I want a man to be sensitive, kind, caring, and to cry on the odd occasion. In fact, I think our relationships with men would be better if they let it all loose and had a good crying jag. We’re still a ways away from society equating crying to something a strong man would do, but hopefully Troy’s post will help shift this antiquated notion that boys (and men) don’t cry. So grab a box of kleenex, and pass a tissue over to your male friends, partner, and co-worker and have a good read…then a good cry.
Thank you, Troy for being so courageous in sharing your insights (and tears) with us.
Subject: The Spontaneous Eye Squirts of T-roy
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m H.H. Troy Aaron Ratliff – writer, artist, photographer, and document signer who likes to sign with an “H.H.” in front of his name for giggles (the H.H. stands for “His Holiness”…don’t everybody burst out laughing at once.). A few days ago, I posted a rather revealing and spontaneous message to a super secret Facebook group. Admittedly, I’m not one to divulge my sensitive side to just anyone, but apparently this particular post was touching to quite a few people, while the comments were even more tender. I’ve embellished a bit with my own poetic and narrative license, so – without further ado – it went something like this:
“This post went on way longer than I expected, but it might be worth sharing anyway. It’ll probably raise a few male eyebrows too, but oh well, here it goes: I had a good cry last night and I don’t know why. I have my struggles – just like everyone – but I don’t have anything particularly sad or spectacularly upsetting going on in my life right now, not directly anyway. This morning, I feel much better than I did yesterday, bouncier, more positive, even…dare I say it…enlightened.
“Now, speaking as a man and for men in general, we usually require enough food, sleep, and “rollz in zee hay” to keep the irritating factors of our lives at bay; for us to be satisfied and content, and not a constant stoic Ernest Hemingway/Harrison Ford-esque grouch. But what so many of the male species stuffs down deep, stomping on them like ripe grapes in a wine press, are our emotions. Women have the same three fundamental human desires/requirements as above – of course – but women cry openly and they’re very good at it. What women have in emotional release is the perfect antithesis to what men have to cram it back, deep inside them – the same internal pump, if you will, but with two very different jobs, depending on the sex and the task of either drawing out or jamming back in. There’s a Freudian interpretation in there if you look for it…
“In my new book I hope to publish this year (shameless plug), I refer to the place men hoard their emotions with a Scrooge-McDuckian frugality as a Vault. Life plays the eternal burglar (think the Beagle Boys but much more sinister) trying to open the vault, curious of what men have stored there. Disney references aside, Life can get in to this vault either by the right “combination” of events (several pent-up little problems and frustrations at home, at work, internally, emotionally, etc.), or by placing a bomb under the vault (a major car accident, death in the family, cancer, bankruptcy, etc.). In other words, when the vault cracks, so do the owners.
“I don’t cry often, but I think I cry more than the average man. Sometimes I wonder if that is the reason men tend to die before their female counterparts; or why a male’s general health is nowhere near as sustainable or reliable when compared to a woman. Personally, I think men need to cry more and let go of their feelings, even if it’s privately. Then maybe we wouldn’t be so grumpy or so shattered when the vault finally opens in whatever circumstance. Or, to take it a step further, we reach a state of tranquility and peace with the ability to open our vaults on our own and at will.
“Sorry for the early morning musings…I’m feeling loquacious.”
Now, this really did come out of nowhere, and I’m not just talking about the sudden spike activity in the water works department that one night, but the musings I just posted above also came at me with the strength of the incredible Hulk hopped up on Bath Salts. I was on a break at work and whipped this up, not thinking it would be more than a few lines of simple observance on the previous night. I never dreamed it would be as long as it did; nor did I expect the outpouring it received. Hopefully, since this post going to a broader audience, it might help someone else who struggling with their emotions. All I have to say it let go and see what happens. For me, I felt like Scrooge swimming in his money afterward.
You might too.