Boys don't cry!
Boys don’t cry!
Don’t make such a fuss!
Something along the lines of this used to come at me when I cried as a child. It did not really matter if I was sad or had hurt myself: boys just did not cry.
Among the generation of my grandparents there were very strong ideals and beliefs with regard to what boys were allowed to do and what they were not – crying or openly expressing your feelings was definitely a no go. Among the generation of my parents superficially there was more of an understanding in those situations, but foremost a huge helplessness: Feeling compassion on the one hand and yet not being able or willing to fully overcome the ideals and beliefs that had been installed in them during their childhood, for example that boys do not cry.
With all of them I could feel that they wished for this somehow embarrassing situation to pass as quickly as possible, as they were worrying what people might think about me and them. They seemed to be afraid that if they acted by their natural impulses – i.e. comforting me and showing understanding, they might be judged as being wrong by others as this behaviour was not matching the ideals and beliefs society had.
For me what did really hurt and made me sad was not so much that what had brought me to tears in the first place, but to not feel understood or accepted by those that I loved and trusted in.
As a consequence I did start to hide my feelings and started to just let the world see what would fit with the pictures and ideals that were classified as good behaviour so that I would be left at peace. As a consequence I learn’t how to calculate and manipulate big time.
And by learning and implementing this into my life, I became part of this self-feeding vicious circle. The more I suppressed what in truth wanted to be expressed, the more rigid the ideals of what was tolerable became in me and with that I started to pester myself and others. Not in such an obvious way like my grandparents did when telling me off for crying, but in a far less transparent and sneaky way.
I perfected a ‘polished surface’, i.e. I was always polite, willing to work and help wherever it might be needed and never raised my voice once for example. But behind this meticulously maintained façade I completely lacked any ounce of compassion or understanding for myself, let alone for others. The more I calculated and manipulated my way through life, the more aloof and inapproachable I became.
Then something happened that hit me like a bombshell.
What I saw when looking into my husbands eyes for the very first time was something that at first I could not even put into words. There was somebody who was looking at me who did not want me to be any different from how I was. Someone, for whom I did not need to be or act in any way, as he neither had any expectations towards me nor needed anything from me. I was just allowed and even invited to be myself, and I could feel far more appreciation for me from that guy that had never seen me before than I had ever had for myself.
The few seconds during which all of this happened kicked me
out of a cycle of trying to fit in, something which my family
had been caught up in for generations.
At first it just felt like a giant earthquake and very soon I was looking in disbelief at the collapsed house of cards that a few moments earlier I would have described as a solid life and it really took some time to figure out how to pick up the cards and build something new again - on a very different foundation.
Step by step I learn’t how to not only allow others to help and support me but even to ask for it – instead of trying to solve and endure anything on my own.
I started to rebuild my life and experienced that accepting myself and loving me
just as I am is the foundation for feeling
truly secure and in balance.
If I do love and accept myself, it does not matter if someone else does not. This allows space. Space to express freely and let others do the same without needing them to be or act in a certain way. Along with this comes a huge feeling of freedom and ease to let everyone see and feel that it is possible to dare to not fit in and be yourself without running the risk of instantly being decapitated for it.
This freedom for me is the foundation to really appreciate, honour and understand myself and thereby be in a position to truly love myself and others.