Dear readers, I apologize for my long hiatus. While attending to personal matters aka life, I fell behind on posting. But don’t worry, I have a queue of unfinished pieces I hope to publish soon…once the perfectionist in me is satisfied with them.
A friend sent me a video by the amazing Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues. It is a lecture on “Embracing Your Inner Girl” and outlines the experiences of girls and women around the world. She uses an interesting concept of “the girl cell”, which she describes as a cell in all of us that displays characteristics such as “compassion, empathy, passionate self, vulnerability, and intensity (Eve Ensler).” She goes on to explain that patriarchy has suppressed these traits, which are fundamental to human survival and functioning.
Her speech is an important reminder of how human traits natural to all of us, are labeled as male or female. The social decision to gender human traits harms all of us. If we are unable to express what is naturally inside of us, then we are not fully human. And this can lead to hardships like the violence that plagues our world. We see this over and over again in our boys, who are told to suppress their pain, with anger as their only acceptable emotional outlet. Ensler points out that this emotional suppression has its gravest effects on males who are told to even force down their tears. She shares a memory during a beating she received from her father, where he warned her not to cry. She explains how the expression of her emotions would expose the abuse he was inflicting, something he was attempting to deny. This story, so common for many abuse survivors, reminds us that if we could process our feelings (i.e. anger, sadness) in a healthy manner then maybe we could avoid hurting others. With all the work that is required to attain emotional health, it’s a shame that any time has to be wasted wondering if you are allowed to even express particular feelings in the first place.
One of my favorite quotes from her speech is, “I actually think that being a girl is so powerful, that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that (Eve Ensler).” This statement is so profound and deep, that I find myself reflecting on it constantly. Imagine a world where girls and boys were not suppressed, but free to express their range of feelings. It’s a world I hope I have the chance to see one day. I want to leave you with a personal poem that I wrote while trying to deal with my own issues with crying. I grew up in a family where tears were not allowed, and to this day I struggle to express vital emotions. Around the same time I watched a great documentary, “Boys to Men?” which was another reminder of the same emotional blocks that one faces just because they are male. My knowledge and life experience helped to create this piece of writing. Please enjoy, and spend some time reflecting on the parts of yourself that you deny and try to understand why. Learning about ourselves is the hardest and most important journey we take in life. So don’t limit yourself, express what you feel and encourage others to do the same.
I decided to stop crying a while ago.
I was fed up with sadness so I said no more.
But little did I understand.
You can stunt your emotions, but the mind won’t forget.
Now these tears are all stored up.
Years of sadness…where should it go?
It hurts even more now that I waited.
It fermented over years into the strongest liquor.
And now I feel if I take one drink.
The tears will flow and never end.
I know this is not possible,
but the fear of the unknown keeps my eyes dry.
Then I think of all those boys. Trained from birth to never let go.
Anger the only emotion they can convey – as the patriarchal notions in media say.
Then I think of those grown men, and the end product.
Violence, war, oppressing, suppressed.
And in this moment I realize, that we are lying to ourselves.
We think that we can stop the feelings, emotions, pain.
But only when they are released, can we ever really find peace.
Reliving the past alone won’t help. But working through it truly can.
We must erase the training received, because when we follow blindly we see the world’s tears.
4/1/10 —–Preeti Pathak